by John Hooper
Jawun Evans just completed his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, leading the Cowboys to a 20-13 record on 19.2 points and 6.4 assists per night. Those numbers were good enough to earn Evans a projected home in the 25-40 range in this year's draft. At a quick glance, Evans' statistical profile coupled with his average size give the impression he'll likely be a fringe starter in league. However, we've found a few indicators that he may be much more than that during his NBA career.
One of the first things to jump out about Evans is that he and his teammates played the strongest schedule in the NCAA this season, based on KenPom's rankings. The numbers that Evans posted this past year become that much more impressive when you factor in the added degree of difficulty of having faced the best competition of any prospect this year. One of the standout aspects of Evans' most recent season was the 12.0 assists per 100 possessions he tallied, which was good enough for 6th amongst the 65 point guards in our database. Evans set up his teammates at an elite rate while playing a top tier schedule (and as only a sophomore). It's easy to see why he projects well as an offensive facilitator at the next level.
Another noteworthy element of Evans' dossier is that while he has adequate size for a point guard at 6'1", his measured wingspan of 6'4" is cause for optimism in that he may be able to be a more disruptive defender than you'd expect than if you'd simply looked at his height. This manifested itself in his 72.8 grade for defensive potential in our algorithm, which was the top score amongst point guard prospects in this year's draft. He also led the year's point guard class in steals with 3.3 thefts per 100 possessions.
Evans is the type of player who can get to anywhere he wants to on the court thanks to his supreme quickness. His style of play is a throwback to when point guards relentlessly attacked the paint in search of a lay-up or a passing lane instead of aggressively hunting for threes. His effectiveness when penetrating translated to an elite grade in our algorithm of 89.1 for his scoring potential. Evans' high numbers for his usage rate (3rd highest of all point guards in our database) and the number of free throws he made per 100 possessions (11th highest of all point guards) served as the main reasons that he's should be able to fill it up with ease in the NBA.
While it's great that he'll likely be a good scorer at the next level, the flip side of Evans' attacking disposition is that he averaged a pedestrian 2.1 made threes per 100 possessions (49th of the 65 point guards). This is a potential red flag, but his respectable percentage on threes (37.9%) and his strong free throw percentage (81.2%) both indicate that he'll be able to develop into enough of a threat from deep that defenders won't be able to give him the Elfrid Payton treatment.
It's clear that Evans will be a floor general style of point guard. He has a high usage rate and racks up a lot of assists, so he'd be an ideal fit on a team where the point guard is expected to fully run the show. He'll thrive in a system heavily predicated on pick and rolls, especially if he's surrounded by good shooters. Based on his stature, quickness, and playing style, the best comparison for Evans is a young Ty Lawson. Even more impressively, Evans will likely be less of a liability defensively than Lawson's been. With this in mind, Evans should be considered by the teams selecting in the 10-15 range, with Chicago looking like a great fit at 16. If he does in fact end up getting drafted at the end of the first round (or later), some lucky team will be getting great value by selecting him.