We’d heard some nice things about Jacob Evans prior to this past summer’s NBPA Top 100 Camp, but that event offered me my first occasion to watch the senior swingman in person.
Oddly enough, he didn’t play all that well there, as at times the games appeared to be too fast or perhaps overly ragged for his preferred style. That was the question as he hit the road during the July live period.
It turns out that Evans is plenty capable of competing versus his peers who are elite athletically, but in fact he does thrive in organization rather than chaos. When he toured with the Louisiana Stars at the Fab 48 to finish the summer in Las Vegas, Evans proved to be a canny shooter and scorer with a surprisingly effective all-around game.
His performances there cast him in a new light, as the Dynasty enjoyed a deep tournament run and advanced all the way to the tournament final. Following the summer, Evans obtained offers from several high-majors and ultimately cut his list to five: Cincinnati, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Tulane.
He announced for the Bearcats in mid-October and gave the program a strong, four star talent in their 2015 haul.
Evans is a structure guy. It would be difficult to overstate that point. The more set plays, the more time per possession, the more effective he’s likely to be. He’s the kind of player who likes to make subtle movements without the ball to find openings in defenses that tire over the course of a possession.
Summer high school basketball obviously does not produce possessions such as that very often, but in flashes during July you could observe how Evans will fit in at UC. Even the Dynasty did not run 30 seconds off the clock each time on offense, but Evans had a familiarity with that team and his natural style became evident.
|Evans frequently gets the better of his more explosive rivals|
In terms of skills, Evans is a talented three-point shooter who specializes in long shots from the wing. He doesn’t possess textbook form, but the release is suitably quick for college and he has demonstrated that he can nail them even without a clean look.
But lest defenders take him for a one dimensional performer, Evans possesses just enough quickness to put the ball on the floor and loft in short jumpers from the baseline. He’s better at pulling up short than going all the way — sometimes using his shoulders well to create space — and that’s a scoring game that can work at the next level.
Meanwhile, he boasts excellent court vision and an advanced understanding of halfcourt offense. He knows where he’s supposed to be, where his teammates should be located, and how that should change as the defense moves. Evans is a fine passer and solid handler for wing forward but, more than that, is an outstanding offensive choreographer.
Evans is just average athletically, and thus he doesn’t project as a one-on-one player, nor a great rebounder. He’ll encounter some smothering defenders who can check him effectively on the outside, and for that reason he’ll have to become a master at using on- and off-ball screens for open looks.
Additionally, Evans makes some nice defensive plays and should become adequate in that regard as he gains strength, but he projects better for offense than defense. His lateral quickness is average and some slashers can get past him more than he might prefer.
Evans may need one season to build himself up physically, but after that look for him to become a coaches’ favorite. Mick Cronin and his assistants will love having such a coachable, intelligent player to utilize on a nightly basis.
Sharpshooting may be the area Evans acclimates to first, but as he matures into his upperclassman years expect him to adopt a full-on leadership role on the court. His game’s subtleties may require time to ripen, but he should develop into a program fixture and key starter for the Bearcats.
U-C appears to be a particularly good fit. The Bearcats tend to operate with a very deliberate tempo, exactly the environment in which Evans should thrive.