Evans is coming to Storrs
When looking for a school to finish his college basketball career and continue his education, R.J. Evans had a short list of favorites.
UConn. UConn. And UConn.
Evans, who'll graduate from Holy Cross in late May, committed to UConn Friday morning after his parents, Ray and Deborah, met with coach Jim Calhoun in Storrs.
"I'm a Husky," said Evans who's from Salem. "It's every Connecticut kid's dream to play at UConn. ... I'm grateful and thank God. It's a great opportunity and I'm going to make the best of it."
A stocky 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard, Evans averaged 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds. 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 47.7 percent from the field last season for Holy Cross (15-14). He sat out most of his junior season as a medical redshirt, giving him another year of eligibility.
It appears to be a perfect marriage for both parties.
Evans will get a chance to play and attend graduate school, pursuing a master's degree in educational psychology, close to home. He graduated from Norwich Free Academy and scored a school record 2,030 points during a stellar career.
"They have a great coaching staff," Evans said. "I think I can help the team and they can help me develop my game. Academically, it's a good fit."
UConn brings in a versatile veteran to a team that lacked leadership and depth last season. The Huskies also add a short-term player during a time when the coaching staff's recruiting efforts are hampered due to a postseason ban in 2013.
Evans first met with Calhoun and assistant coach Glen Miller on March 26. Miller, who's known Evans since his sophomore year at NFA, played the lead role in the recruiting process.
Their conversations focused on academics, according to Evans.
"I know they get a lot of (heat) for academics," Evans said. "But most of their main focus, they talked about academics. They didn't talk basketball, which I really appreciated. That was a big factor."
Evans said that he's not concerned about his role. He just wants to make a valuable contribution.
"I just go in there really as an open book," Evans said. "I want to contribute to the team what I have done my last four years (at Holy Cross). I became a mature leader on the court who can bring not only offense and scoring but also the intangibles that a lot of teams these days are missing.
"A lot of teams don't have energy on the court and they don't always compete. I bring toughness and competitiveness on the court."
Evans joins 6-4 guard Omar Calhoun of Brooklyn, N.Y., in UConn's incoming recruiting class. The Huskies may not try to fill all of their three remaining scholarships, instead waiting to sign recruits from an impressive Class of 2013.
He believes that Calhoun, who's contemplating his future, will return next season.
"I don't think he would leave UConn when it is down," Evans said. "He wants to prove with the (postseason) ban that they're still a good team."
Evans is believed to be the first former Eastern Connecticut Conference player to receive a scholarship to play for Calhoun. Ledyard High School graduates Kyle Chapman (1996-97) and Greg Yeomans (1994-95) each spent a season in Storrs as a walk-on.
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