Evans joins elite company

Published 10:42 pm Saturday, April 19, 2014

Former Nansemond River High School star Shannon Evans has risen from having few prospects to becoming a top 25 freshman standout at the Division I college level.

Former Nansemond River High School star Shannon Evans has risen from having few prospects to becoming a top 25 freshman standout at the Division I college level.

Coming out of high school, former Nansemond River High School basketball standout Shannon Evans had offers from only a couple of Division III schools. He was told he would not be able to play at the Division I level.

But he earned a place with a D1 school, University at Buffalo — The State University of New York, and after a strong freshman year, he was named among the top 25 freshmen in the nation earlier this month.

This elite group comprises the 2013-14 Kyle Macy Freshmen All-America team.

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“It feels amazing,” Evans said, recalling how limited his prospects seemed a short time ago. “Now I’m a Freshman All-American at the Division I level.”

Evans said this status was not something he was aiming for, specifically.

“I really wasn’t worried about individual accolades; I just wanted to win and try to contribute as much as possible,” he said, serving as the spark off the bench in all 29 games this season. “Whatever role Coach (Bobby Hurley) gave me as a freshman, I was just wanting to do it to the best of my ability.”

Evans finished tied for fourth in scoring on the upperclassmen-laden team with 8.5 points per game. The Bulls (19-10, 13-5) benefited from the nine games in which he hit double figures.

His 95 assists were second-best on the Bulls and eighth-best in the Mid-American Conference, and he came in third on his team with 40 steals.

Nansemond River head coach Ed Young stated in a text message that earning the designation is a “great honor for (Evans) as he came into D1 play without any big fanfare or the (Amateur Athletic Union) politics some others came in under. He earned everything by playing hard and paying attention to detail.”

Shannon Evans Sr. said he and his wife Armona Evans were surprised their son made the top 25, but echoed Coach Young’s thoughts.

“It’s coming from the hard work that he’s doing,” Shannon Evans Sr. said. “The hard work is definitely paying off for him.”

“Now he needs to stay humble and keep working,” Young stated. “He will be counted (on) to be a leader for his team next year.

Evans knows he needs to improve, evident from the grade he gave his freshman performance.

“I’ll give it a B-minus, because I felt like I could have done more to help win our conference,” Evans said of his season, as his team fell short in this endeavor. “B-minus, C-plus, somewhere around that range.”

“I’ll be in the starting lineup next year,” he said. “My goal it is to be an all-conference point guard and to win Buffalo a championship.”

Also on the top 25 list were such big names during this past basketball season as Duke University’s Jabari Parker, University of Kentucky’s Julius Randle, University of Kansas stars Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Syracuse University’s Tyler Ennis.

Of those players, all but Randle have already announced they will be entering this year’s National Basketball Association draft.

Evans said being named among them has given him more motivation.

“I feel like in a couple years, if I really put in the work and dedication, I can be able to make it, you know?” he said. “That’s the mindset I have from this award.”

He also hopes his college success has inspired hope back in Suffolk.

“I’m trying to show the kids back at home that dreams really come true,” he said. “You can really do it.”