The NBA is filled with players who got drafted way too low.
In 2011, Jimmy Butler went 30th overall and Isaiah Thomas went 60th. Draymond Green went 35th in 2012. Rudy Gobert went 27th overall in 2013. When a franchise hits big on a late pick, it’s like striking gold. The next player who could go from sleeper to superstar? Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans. The 6-foot-1, 177-pound point guard was a McDonald’s All-American at Justin F. Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas. After committing to Oklahoma State, Evans quickly made a name for himself when he dropped 42 points against Oklahoma (then ranked as the second-best team in the country) to nearly pull off a massive upset.
That dazzling performance helped him earn Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors. Evans followed that up with a stellar sophomore campaign, averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game en route to a first-team All-Big 12 selection.
With a resume like that, you’d think Evans would be considered a top player in this year’s draft class. However, analysts are predicting he may slip into the second round. Given his talent and drive, he’s the sort of player who has the potential to make teams regret letting him get away. STACK recently caught up with Evans at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada to find out more about this intriguing sleeper prospect.
Where are you from and how did you first discover basketball?
I’m from Greenville, South Carolina. I was born and raised there. The first time I picked up a basketball, my brother put it in my hands. He taught me the ropes and I would sometimes work out with him when I was younger. He’d keep me outside and make me shoot extra jumpers. It wasn’t easy—it was kinda tough. He always used to stay on me, riding me about it. He’s continued to stay with me to this day, telling me to go out there and play my hardest because I’ve got nothing to lose. He’s just there for me, and I thank him for that.
Aside from your brother, who else has had a big impact on your career?
My AAU coach, Lamont Simmons. He’s been there for me, too. He was my brother’s coach when he played AAU, too. He’s always been around, been that mentor for me helping with my recruitment and everything. Then there’s my mom. She’s been there for me through ups and downs. We had our down times growing up but you come into it and everything is starting to work out for itself.
You mentioned hard times. Do you think those hard times helped make you stronger?
When I was younger, my mom lost her job. So we were trying to make ends meet. That inspired me to go harder every day. It really opened my eyes and just made me want to go harder and just eat every time I go on the court.
How has training here at Impact Basketball been beneficial for you?
It’s benefited me a lot. The coaches have been helping me with my shot, telling me the little things I need to do with my shot to make it better. (Focusing on) getting more rotation on the ball and getting more lift off the ground. As a point guard, I’m kind of smaller. (Being able) to shoot out farther will help me a lot, so I’m focusing in on that.
You’re just one of several guys here training for the NBA. What’s it been like to share this experience with them?
It’s been great going with this group of guys. We have a great bond and everybody is cool with each other. We’re just learning different things from each other and also all of us are working hard to get to the next level.
It’s never an easy decision to forgo college eligibility and enter the draft. What will you remember most from your time at Oklahoma State?
We’ve got a great fanbase. They always ride with me through the ups and downs that the team has and that I have. They’ve been great.
This a deep draft class, especially at the point guard position. How do you think you stand out?
I’m a defensive player. I like to get out there on defense. I’ll pick you up for the full court. On the offensive end, I like to make my teammates better and get them involved. I like to see them happy, making shots and getting their points. Also, I can score the ball.