2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day: Bobby Hurley, Shannon Evans II share journey from Buffalo to Tempe
SAN FRANCISCO – For every year Bobby Hurley has been an NCAA Division I head basketball coach, Shannon Evans II has been by his side. It’s not often that a player transfers with a coach, but that’s exactly what happened when Evans decided to follow Hurley from Buffalo to Tempe.
“I just love being around him. He’s a great guy. He’s so funny. He’s intense, he loves the game of basketball just as much as I do,” Evans said of Hurley. “We’re both competitors, we want to fight hard. He’s a competitor every day, and I want to be around people like that.”
Hurley and Evans had great success at Buffalo, helping guide the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2015. Now, with Evans in his final year of eligibility, the two will try to get Arizona State back in the postseason conversation.
“The first day of practice I realized that’s the last time that it will be the first practice of the season with Shannon. So it’s going to be different,” Hurley said at 2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day. “He’s gotten better and better over the years. He looks terrific and ready to have a great season.”
Evans, who considers Hurley a best friend, said it wasn’t all rosy at first back in western New York. Hurley was hard on him to the point that Evans wondered if he was on Hurley’s bad side.
“When I first got in, I really didn’t think he liked me at first because he was always on my back, but now that I’m older, I look back and am like, ‘Wow, he wanted the best for me,’” Evans said. “I feel like we both opened up to each other, and I felt like from there, it went through the roof. We love each other; that’s my guy.”
Evans went on to enjoy a decorated two-year stint at Buffalo in Hurley’s first two years as a head coach, earning All-MAC Freshman Team honors in 2013-14 and Second Team All-MAC accolades as a sophomore. Hurley helped parlay the team’s success into the Arizona State job, and just like Hurley had aspirations of being a successful coach at a high-major program, Evans wanted to prove the same as a player.
“I made a lot of great friends [at Buffalo] and I wanted to stay, but at the same time, I knew there would be questions like could I do the same thing at a bigger conference?” Evans said. “So I just wanted to come here and answer those questions and see where my career takes me after this.”
Evans headed West to Arizona State the same year as Hurley, sitting out the 2015-16 season due to transfer rules. He made his presence felt in practice during his season on the sidelines, being named to the NCAA All-America practice team, before averaging 15 points per game as a redshirt junior in 2016-17. With the fifth-year senior primed for a big swan song, Hurley knows better than anyone how far Evans has come as a player and a leader.
“He has become more of a student of the game and understanding and making good decisions when he’s playing,” Hurley said of Evans. “He has really defined his game more to where he’s making great decisions and [becoming] a better leader.”