Evans featured in P.I.T.

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

By Matthew Hatfield


The 66th Annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament took place from April 11-14 at Churchland High School, featuring the nation’s premier senior college players auditioning in front of professional basketball scouts and general managers.

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Recognizable names that have played in the event include the likes of former NBA standouts Rick Barry, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, John Stockton and many more.

One of the players in this year’s P.I.T. was Nansemond River alum Shannon Evans, who concluded his college career at Arizona State last month in the NCAA Tournament. The opportunity was not lost on the 6-foot-1 Suffolk native as he returned home.

“Seeing people who have been around since I was growing up hooping is just great. All these familiar faces have been coming up to me telling me they remember when I was in middle school and high school. It’s so amazing to be home and playing basketball here,” Evans said after tallying 15 points and four assists in an opening night comeback win on Thursday.

“It was tough the first half because shots weren’t falling, me specifically. The second half, seeing the ball go through the rim, playing defense harder, guys diving on the floor and the energy picked up. It was fun.”

Evans reflected on his basketball journey, which almost started too late.

“Growing up, I mostly played football and baseball. Those were my dominant sports. I started taking basketball seriously around seventh and eighth grade. I feel like I was behind because those other guys have been playing AAU basketball their whole life. I was sold as a late-bloomer you could say,” Evans said.

“Once I really dedicated my time to the game, actually got in the gym and started to learn, I felt like I picked up things quickly. But it took a lot of hard work to get here, and I’m glad I’m here.”

Two men that were instrumental in his growth were a couple of his basketball teachers, Nansemond River coach Ed Young and former Duke point guard Bobby Hurley, who coached him at both Buffalo and Arizona State.

“Coach Young really disciplined me a lot. Not in a way where it was bad, but I felt like I needed it at the time. I was a young kid, immature and not really knowing what to do. He put me in line and got me right,” Evans recalled of his time with the Warriors.

“When I got to Buffalo with Coach Hurley, he taught me things in the off-season. I learned a lot from him watching film. At the end of the day, he’s somebody I trust, he trusted me and let me go out there and do my thing.”

Young was part of the throng of supporters from Suffolk in attendance to watch Evans play.

“To see him from his days when I got the chance to coach him, his college career — where he really made a name for himself — and now play in his first pro type of event, it is really neat. I think he fit right in and didn’t do anything to embarrass himself,” commented Young.

“He had a nice following, probably as big as any kid that has been here in the past that was local. He’s a crowd-pleaser and that helps, too. He has that infectious personality. He loves excitement and competition, so that’s somebody you’re going to gravitate towards. That personality definitely helps because when somebody is going to pay you, they want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth, and you need all the intangibles.”

Over three games at the P.I.T., Evans averaged 14.3 points per contest, placing 17th out of 64 participants in scoring. He also tied for second in steals among all players with six. After turning it over four times in the first game, he re-grouped to finish with a 14-6 assist-to-turnover ratio as he looks to prove he can run a team.

“The biggest thing is I want to show people I can play the point and be a complete player,” Evans replied when asked what he wants evaluators to see out of his game.

“I played the ‘2’ at Nansemond River and Hargrave, and at Arizona State I played the ‘2’ or even the ‘3’ at times because we played three or four guards. I feel like there are times I shoot the ball or my floater is going. But I want to show people I can get my teammates involved and make the right play and right read every time.”

From being ranked the No. 51 senior in the state at Nansemond River to now having a chance to play at the professional ranks, Evans has had quite a ride and is enjoying every minute.

“At the end of the day, I’m an underdog, hard-working, blue-collar guy where really nothing has been given to me,” Evans said.