Bull Run's 2014-15 Men's Basketball Preview continues with a look at this year's sophomore class, which after the unexplained absence of Deyshonee Much sits at a single Bull.
Shannon Evans - #11 - Guard
Question: Evans averaged 26 minutes per game as a freshman and seems well-poised to take a step forward in 2014-15. With UB needing to replace 57% of its 2013-14 scoring, will we see a larger jump in Evans' points or assists?
Random Stat: Evans was the first UB freshman in the MAC era to account for more than 20% of his team's total steals. None of Byron Mulkey, Andy Robinson, or Rod Middleton managed it. Even Turner Battle only got to 17%.
Game of the year: It wasn't a season-high in points, rebounds, assists, or steals, but Evan's 17-point effort in a decisive late-January win over Western Michigan featured his best shooting from the floor, and by far his best all-around effort of the year in a big win in front of a big home crowd.
2014-15 Outlook: Any of the questions concerning this UB team's loss of depth and the overall team outlook are in my mind reason to expect a significant step forward numbers-wise: Evans and Jarryn Skeete are UB's only returning guards. It's good that as a freshman Shannon got 26 minutes a game, because he'll likely be over 32 per this season, and it's a lot easier to make that jump from 26 than from 17 or 18. A year in the system and on a collegiate weight-training plan will certainly help with building the required stamina for that jump.
There's more, though, than the purely physical side of taking on a bigger role. With five of last year's teammates no longer in Amherst, Evans now is thrust into a leadership role. This team belongs to him and Will Regan as they look to build on Year One of the Hurley Era. Evans certainly seemed to welcome his emotional role as sixth man last year, and I have no doubt that Jarrod Oldham and Coach Hurley have been able mentors for the now-sophomore. But we'll be keeping in mind that there's more to Evans' increased role than the number of minutes on the floor.
In terms of a numbers-based outlook for the year, I would fully expect Evans to crack double-digit scoring and approach, if not hit, five assists per game while playing 30 to 32 minutes a game.