For the last year, Arizona State guard Shannon Evans has been waiting for his opportunity. After transferring from Buffalo in 2015, the 6-foot-1, 160-pound guard has been anxiously awaiting the day where he can finally suit up and return to the court in game action.
Following former Buffalo head coach and current ASU coach Bobby Hurley to Tempe, Evans was the first player to sign with the Sun Devils under the new regime.
During his first two years at Buffalo, Evans earned All-MAC Freshman honors and Second-team All-MAC honors, leading Hurley’s Bulls to the NCAA tournament.
After enjoying immediate success at Buffalo, though, Evans had to wait for his next opportunity because NCAA transfer rules required him to sit out a full season. Evans' time off the court is almost up, and being able to look forward to live action again has made the process more rewarding.
“I was just trying to be mentally tough, because sitting out a whole year coming off a championship, NCAA tournament run, all of that and not touch a basketball in a game? It’s kind of like heartbreaking, but at the same time I know I had to get through it and it will be rewarding at the end,” Evans said.
Evans, who averaged 15.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals during the 2014-2015 season, is on pace to make a major impact back in Hurley’s system.
“I think Shannon Evans is the equivalent of a McDonald’s All-American based on where his game is at and what he’s going to do this year,” Hurley said.
Evans will start alongside junior Tra Holder in ASU's backcourt, making the Sun Devils' guard combo one of the smallest in the Pac-12. However, Hurley does not see this as an issue. With Evans’ practically limitless energy, he could be the spark that ASU has missed in years prior.
As Evans watched from the sidelines last year, Holder took the reins of the ASU offense, and the players helped each other develop their games in practice. Evans also mentioned how excited he is to finally share the court with Holder, who he coined as being very similar to him in terms of playing style.
“I heard a lot of people saying I helped him (Holder) get better, but just as well as I helped him, he helped me too,” Evans said. “He got me better I feel like on the court, off the court, showed me how the Pac-12 really worked. So, I learned a lot from him. And playing with him this year is going to be amazing. I can’t wait. I feel we’re like the same in a way. We both can defend, we both can shoot, both can penetrate. So, we’re like the same. We both bring energy and stuff like that to the court, so it’s going to be very fun.”
Hurley said Evans' energy will bring a different element to the court, but it’s already showing up in other areas before the Sun Devils tip off their season Nov. 11 in Wells Fargo Arena against Portland State.
That energy was on display when Hurley had his players run a mile in conditioning, as Evans clocked in just under five minutes, the fastest time Hurley has seen in his coaching career.
"Shannon is as gifted as any player in our conference coming into this year on the perimeter," Hurley said. "When you see that guy work every day and you see him make plays, whether it's hitting the deep [three-pointers], getting in the lane, finding teammates, playing the defensive end at a high level, guarding the ball. The guy doesn't get tired. He can run all day. We did our team mile, he was 4:59 in the mile which is the top time that I've ever been around in my coaching.”
Making the jump from the Mid-American Conference to the Pac-12 has been enjoyable for Evans thus far, and the preparation he’s put in for this moment has only enhanced his excitement to take a step up in competition this year.
“No offense to the MAC, but like some games you can kind of just take off, and the Pac-12 is like every game you got to play,” Evans said. “You’re playing a big opponent, so I really like that. There’s a competitive nature here. I love Buffalo. Buffalo is a big part of me, it got me where I want to be at. I will always love Buffalo.”
With two years of eligibility still remaining, Hurley expects Sun Devil fans will quickly gravitate to Evans’ style of play and passion for the game once the season begins.
“Yeah, he does everything,” Hurley said. “And then just the intangibles, the electricity that you’ll see him play with. I think his teammates will feed off his positive energy. Our fans will enjoy that, too.”