Trimming a list from a lot to eight may not sound like much, but it's a significant moment in the timeline of a big-time college basketball recruit.
That especially true for the schools that make the cut.
Coveted 2015 point guard Jawun Evans (Dallas, Texas - Kimball High) narrowed his list on Thursday, with the Illini, Cincinnati, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech still in the running.
So now there's eight. Looking at the list, it's clear Evans has a diverse set of suitors.
From what we're hearing at Illini Playbook, the Illini have as good as a shot as any other to land the 6-0, 165-pound Evans, who is averaging nearly five assists a game during the recent stretch of EBYL games.
A few things…
- At one point in time, near the end of last summer, Evans was considered to be leaning toward SMU. It made since, given the Texas ties and the recent momentum created by Larry Brown's arrival and quick recruiting success. Sounded good at the time. Now, it's another cautionary lesson in not getting ahead of a recruit's own timetable. The Mustangs are no longer the favorite. Heck, they didn't even make the top eight.
- Illinois needs a point guard. Big time. Bad. Desperately. Evans knows this already, as coach John Groce and the staff have made it clear. With Evans and Jalen Brunson clearly the top targets at the position, there's been plenty of attention paid Evans way. There's an accepted bit about Groce that's been told and re-told since he arrived at Illinois. His offense caters to guards and is especially deadly when he has a point that can score and create. That has to sound good to a guy like Evans, who can — wait for it — score and create. Groce and assistant Jamall Walker have done an excellent job establishing a relationship with Evans, conveying how much they need him and explaining how, specifically, he would thrive in the system.
- Fellow 2015 stud, Elijah Thomas, has the Illini in his top 10. And as most of you probably know, Thomas and Evans are good friends. The two have talked about a package deal, although it's certainly not a lock to happen (it rarely does). Thomas is said to have the Illini high up his list, so reading between the lines, it's easy to start forecasting a potential Texas two-step by Groce in the 2015 class.
As for the teams Illinois has to beat…
- Texas will be in there until the end because… it's Texas. Evans lives in Texas and the Longhorns are also in Thomas' top group, another threat in the event the package deal does end up happening.
- Just to finish off the package deal possibilities with Evans and Thomas, Southern Cal and Oklahoma State round out the list of schools on both lists.
- Clemson has a good shot. Evans is originally from South Carolina, where the Tigers are the favorite basketball team and the ACC is still thought to be the best conference in the land.
- Back to Oklahoma State — the Cowboys have been said by insiders to be high up on the pecking order for Evans services. Coach Travis Ford, tough as last season may have been, has recent successful history in recruiting and guards like Marcus Smart provide examples for Ford to showcase.