Jawun Evans is beginning to get noticed nationally. Each week, NCAA.com selects a college basketball All-Week team and Evans was selected for his performance at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, where he scored 30-plus points twice.
The sophomore point guard is averaging 24.7 points and is shooting 56.3 percent from three-point range entering Wednesday night’s game against Rogers State at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
But it’s what Evans did off the court that impressed Cowboys head coach Brad Underwood in Maui. When asked if his point guard showed him a different level in Maui, this was Underwood’s response: “No, I always thought he was pretty good. I think to his credit Jawun did one of the most unselfish things, and I think it says a tremendous amount about him. His 35 (points) against UConn, Roy (Williams) was going to let him have a big night against North Carolina, and they did a great job of trying to take Phil (Forte) and Jeff (Carroll) out of it, and our wing players, and not let them get going.
“But the most important part of what Jawun did for me was in the Georgetown game. Brandon Averette really impacted the game, got going. After about a two-and-a-half, three-minute stretch I’m getting ready to put Jawun back in, and he said, ‘Coach, leave him in. He’s leading us and doing a great job.’
“For your best player to say that, that says a lot about his character. It says a lot about our locker room. Jawun’s special, there’s no question. In my opinion, he’s the best point guard in America. He’s capable of doing so many things. That leadership role right there (that he showed in Hawaii) speaks volumes.”
Underwood shared his thoughts on a few other topics earlier this week:
Have the Cowboys found an identity?
Underwood: “I think we’re still trying to find it on the defensive end. I say that, (but) we’re one of the top teams in the country in steals. I think we’re starting to become more familiar with roles, players are still trying to do that.
“We’ve got to get Leyton (Hammonds) going. We’ve got to get Mitch (Solomon) going. Those are two integral parts of our team for us to get where we need to be. So I think we’re still growing in that area, but I think we’re not going to face anybody any better than (North) Carolina all year, in my opinion.
“So we’ve seen the best, and we’ve seen two very, very different teams in UConn and we saw a huge Georgetown team, so we’ve seen different styles. So I think we have grown in some areas but we’re still not a finely-tuned machine. We’re still searching for some identities and players that have to step up to be quite honest.”
What’s Solomon need to do to get more playing time?
Underwood: “I think staying in the game long enough will be a big part of it. I think foul trouble has been an impact for him. He’s trying very hard to do what we want him to do. He’s got really good looks; I think he’s a terrific shooter, (but) the ball hasn’t gone it. That sometimes can manifest itself in a lot of other areas. Some of his fouls are silly fouls, we’ve got to get him out of that habit.
“The main reason I didn’t start Mitch the other night (against Georgetown) was because I need Mitch on the floor for extended minutes, so let’s see if changing a role, coming off the bench, seeing the floor and the game, can help him.
“He and Leyton are kinda in that same role, I’m going to keep rolling with Leyton. I love his energy. I love his leadership. He’s going to make shots. He’s a really good player. He’s going to contribute, and it’s all just a matter of when all of that falls into place. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.”
Do you see Lucas N’Guessan continuing to improve?
Underwood: “He’s an extremely high IQ guy, so he picks up what we do, he understands what we do. He’s very seldom in the wrong position. His mistakes are because of physical lack of strength, (and) I can handle that. We can manage that. He plays hard, and I think he’s starting to see some comfort on the offensive end where he knows that maybe he can get a shot here or there. He’s a very good screener, so he’s definitely helped us with his role and I think that will continue to expand.”