Cumming (GA) South Forsyth power forward Evan Cole thought a couple of months ago he would be playing basketball at UNC Wilmington. However, a coaching change and huge senior year has him set to play in a high-major conference.
"After coach Keatts left UNC Wilmington I asked for my release," said Cole. "I had 27 schools reach out after I got my release, but I've already narrowed it down to NC State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Minnesota, and Wofford. They are all really good schools with good coaches."
Cole had a huge senior year, as he averaged 23 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks to earn all-state honors while being named county Player of the Year.
He turned even more heads recently when he took home MVP honors in Georgia's North/South All-Star Game. A game that featured players like P.J. Horne (Virginia Tech), Al Durham (Indiana), and Chuma Okeke (Auburn) among others,Cole was dominant. He tallied 31 points, nine rebounds, and six blocks to take home MVP honors.
"The schools were already interested in me, but that game probably helped me," he said. "I've always felt though I could play on the highest level."
One coach who didn't need convincing was NC State head coach Kevin Keatts. Cole originally inked with Keatts and UNC Wilmington in the fall, and they have a very strong relationship.
"Coach Keatts, I like him a lot," said Cole. "That's why I signed with them the first time around... our relationship. He then went to NC State and I didn't know if he would recruit me. He couldn't call recruits until I got my release, but once I did he called, and I think they have a great situation."
Assistant coach Takayo Siddle headed up Cole's recruitment, and he's joined Keatts in Raleigh as well.
"That helps a lot too," said Cole. "I know the staff so well and they know my game so well. They've been there for me all along, and they've always believed in me. I remember when I went to visit them at UNCW, coach Keatts said that he thought I could play at the highest level. Now that he's at a top-level program he wants me to visit, so it says a lot about him and his staff."
Cole took official visits to UNC Wilmington and Valparaiso last fall, and he has three trips remaining. He will take an official visit to NC State this weekend.
"I'm excited about visiting NC State," he said. "That's the only visit I've officially set up, but I'm still working on the other visits.
"I want to see what the school is like. I really like the system that coach Keatts will run. He does a lot with the four-man... I can play inside, shoot three-pointers, and really thrive in transition. I think I fit their playing style really well."
Cole, who checks in at 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, is being recruited to play power forward. As of now he maintains there is no leader and he plans on using all of his available official visits before making a decision.
"I'm pretty wide open," he said. "If I feel everything checks my boxes and it's the best place, I could go ahead and commit. But, I don't plan on committing on a visit... I'd rather wait and think about it before making a decision."