If you’ve heard the name Jawun Evans lately, it’s likely because you’ve been skimming 2017 mock drafts or reading about NBA draft workouts. The former Oklahoma State point guard has really helped his draft stock in recent weeks and may climb into the first round of this year’s draft.
Entering this process, he was largely being projected as a second-round pick, but it’s seeming more likely that he’ll be off the board at some point in the first 30 selections. HoopsHype’s NBA draft expert Aran Smith agrees, as has Evans going No. 21 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder in his latest 2017 mock draft.
“The process has been great,” Evans told HoopsHype. “I’ve been shooting the ball really well after working on that a lot during my pre-draft training. I’ve also been able to showcase my passing ability and the way I can get up and down the court. I’ve definitely seen results from working on my game every day.”
Because Evans spent two years in college, he’s the rare prospect who has a solid amount of experience and game film showing his strengths as well as the untapped potential that teams fall in love with during the draft.
“I feel fortunate that I had two years of college experience because I think that really helped me, but I do think I still have a lot of room to grow,” Evans said. “I’m looking forward to [developing further], and I’m going to work every day so I can be the best I can be.”
This past season with the Cowboys, Evans averaged 19.2 points, 6.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 29.3 minutes per game, while shooting 43.8 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from three-point range and 81.2 percent from the free-throw line.
From year one to year two at Oklahoma State, he improved his PER (22 to 27.3), Win Shares (2.6 to 4.8), Box Plus/Minus (7.5 to 9.1), Assist Percentage (41.9 to 43.6) and Steal Percentage (2.4 to 3.3). He also decreased his Turnover Percentage (18.5 to 13.6) despite having a higher Usage Percentage (25.5 to 32.7). Among all NCAA players this past year, he ranked second in Assist Percentage (43.6), 15th in Offensive Box Plus/Minus (7.7) and 19th in Points Produced (20.6 per game).
Perhaps most impressive, Evans’ career Assist Percentage (42.9) is the fourth-highest in NCAA history. Executives who have evaluated the 20-year-old are excited to see what he can do as a distributor at the next level once he has NBA-level teammates surrounding him.
“My biggest strengths are getting up and down the floor, making my teammates better, my passing ability and being a great locker-room guy,” Evans said. “I also think I’m a great to play with on the defensive end, because I like playing defense and take pride in it.”
Even though his stock is on the rise, Evans still feels like he’s being underrated and that’s largely due to his height. At the NBA combine, Evans measured in at just under 6-feet tall. This is seen as a red flag by some talent evaluators, which frustrates the point guard. He’s spent much of his life silencing the doubters who thought his height would limit him.
“I think I’m overlooked a lot because of my height, but I can do the same things that the ‘top guards’ – the guards projected ahead of me – can do,” Evans said. “I’ve been going against taller guards my whole life. When I was a kid, I always played against older competition. That’s never slowed me down. I’ve been able to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself and I’m ready to do the same thing in the NBA. I definitely feel underrated and I’ve used that as motivation. I have a big chip on my shoulder.”
It’s worth noting that Evans has a 6-foot-5.5 wingspan and a 7-foot-11 standing reach, so his length helps make up for his smaller frame.
“My wingspan helps me tremendously, on offense and on defense,” Evans said. “Defensively, I get a lot of deflections and I think my length is a big reason for that. It allows me to get my hands on the ball at times and I think it makes it harder for guys to score on me. And on the offensive end, my wingspan definitely helps me when I’m finishing at the basket. It gives me a bit of an advantage on both ends.”
Evans is also a solid athlete. Among the point guards in this year’s draft class, he had the sixth-best max vertical (33.5 inches) and the seventh-best sprint time (3.21 seconds). He’s in the best shape of his life after training daily at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas and working out for teams.
“I changed my eating habits during this process and that’s helped me,” Evans said. “I’ve been following a meal plan and running more, so I’ve slimmed down a bit. It’s been great.”
When he’s not putting in work on the court, Evans tries to study film of various point guards around the NBA. Two floor generals in particular have had a significant impact on him.
“I watch a lot of Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe,” Evans said. “Paul has always been someone I’ve tried to model my game after because he’s just so good. With Bledsoe, I like watching him because he’s a dog on the defensive end and I like the way he approaches the game on the offensive end. I’ve learned a lot from watching those two guys.”
He admits that it’s a bit surreal that he’ll soon be facing off against Paul, Bledsoe and the rest of the NBA’s point guards. In less than one week, his NBA dream will become reality.
“Hearing my name called would mean everything to me,” Evans said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about my entire life and I know it’ll be really emotional. I just can’t wait.”