Shannon Evans is a smart kid. He's charismatic, we loved him. Call me a contrarian but I think he was 100% correct in his decision to transfer. Why? Because he wanted to transfer. It's his college, his career, and it should be his unpenalized choice.
He has seen nothing but success at UB and I'm sure under coach Oats, he would continue to succeed, unless he doesn't want to be at Buffalo. If he doesn't want to be in Buffalo and stays, we'd probably see his play and his academics suffer.
My transfer policy is simple, it's the same as the university transfer policy: if you want to leave, leave.
That said I've seen some reasons why people believe Evans erred and I want to address them.
1) It's not a good academic decision
Shannon Evans is an Academic All-MAC player, so he's smart. If he goes to ASU, he's not exactly going to Harvard, so you would assume his academic success would continue.
The PAC-12 schedule, generally a 2-game home stand, followed by a Thursday-Saturday two game road trip, is very easy to plan for and allows even Stanford and Berkeley students to keep up with their studies.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication opened a brand new facility in 2008 and they are committed to prepare students for real world work, not just philosophy.
In 2014, Newspro-RTDNA ranked ASU as tied for the #5 Journalism school in the country.
Additionally, if Evan's career does not include playing in the NBA, he may be interested in covering the NBA. ASU has the Phoenix Suns, so if his career goes in that direction, he can work with a professional basketball franchise.
If he stays 5 years, since he'll have to sit out his transfer year, there is a good chance Evans can finish his Master's degree before his playing career ends.
2) You commit to a School not a Coach
If this is true, why do coaches recruit? Kids often commit to coaches, we just hope they learn to love the school. Khalil Mack and Branden Oliver committed to Turner Gill, but a year into their tenure, Gill was gone. I think in a sense UB is fortunate both were from Florida, and formed an immediate bond. Their friendship and their bond to the University kept both stars in the Blue and White, but they definitely came because of Gill and his staff.
Evans committed to Reggie, but has only coached under Hurley. Hurley is a PG, and the bond between Hurley and Evans is part of what made Hurley a great coach. We saw Evans progress immensely from a wild freshman to a more controlled and effective sophomore. He trusts his development with the only coach he's had in college, and he wants to continue that development. It is his right to do so, and in the same situation, I would have as well.
3) He'll just sit on the bench
Hard to say, ASU isn't exactly lighting the PAC 12 on fire. Sitting the first year is pretty cruel for him. Evans has the instant advantage of having experience with Hurley and his system. Without transfer restrictions, I could see Evans starting in 2015. In 2016, after everyone has had a year with Hurley's system, the advantage won't be as prominent.
In addition, in a major conference, Hurley will have greater access to one-and-done prospects. If Evans is slated to start in 2016, but the next James Harden signs at ASU, it will severely damage Evans' playing time.
That said, Evans is betting on himself. As an athlete, he's taking a challenge and the risk/reward for that challenge. That is the core of sports. Sports is not about playing it safe because you might fail, you play to win the game.
4) He went about it the wrong way
This instantly reminds me of people who say the courts are not the way for college athletes to fight for more compensation. They say this like a venue for athletes to negotiate their rights exists. Athletes sign their rights away as a condition of participation, their only recourses are civil disobedience, PR stunts, and legal action.
You take a comm student, a smart one at that, a media savvy one, and show him the NCAA ban a player for being homeless, show him Kansas State do their best to prevent Leticia Romero from transferring, show him the released data from the NCAA's USC investigation.
This smart kid will probably see that he can try to transfer to ASU "the right way" and get denied.
Or he can try to transfer "the wrong way" and get what he wants.
For Evans, I think it's a no brainer. For everyone else, we have to look in the mirror and figure out why an intelligent student would think the best way to do what he wants, is to do things the "wrong way".
Maybe our feelings on transfer restrictions are wrong. In a previous article, Tim and I put together the skeleton of a policy holding schools bringing in a transfer more responsible for the academic success of that student. I think that is probably a better path (although tougher standards in athletics just makes academic fraud more appealing) and I believe Shannon Evans has shown the academic ability that he would pass the Tim-Conrad transfer requirements.
Those that stay will be champions
I look at two years of Hurley and Evans as a semi fun, semi-frustrating (remember the 2nd half "Cable Bulls" this year), but overall successful ride. A platoon from our assistant (now head) coach's high school, a couple Reggie recruits, the hometown UVA transfer and the animated former Duke star. It was a great story and a great era, up there with the Gill era.
At our level, we need shots in the arm, players and coaches that will elevate our program, as we slowly build a foundation to maintain success. Coach Oats stayed, and if he stays, eventually, he'll be the second UB coach to win the Men's MAC Basketball Championship. All the other athletes who stayed, are in the gym today working on being champions.
We'll always talk about Hollywood Evans, and I hope we remember him for what he did, rather than what he had to do to take the next step in his life.