Roosevelt basketball thrives from a distance -- Gazette.Net



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It's never been difficult to find Trevor Evans on a basketball court. He's the 6-foot-1 shooting guard orbiting the 3-point line like it has some sort of gravitational pull. He also takes the position of shooting guard literally.

He runs his defenders through screens, slinks quietly into the corners and pops out on the wings to bide time until point guard Emmanuel Matey finds him. Matey almost always finds him.

“I can allow him to bring the ball up,” Evans said. “And I know he'll find me.”

Then Evans' shot goes up. It usually drops through the net in a clean swish.

“He's the best shooter in the state,” said Matey, who recorded an Eleanor Roosevelt High School record 15 assists, many of which went to Evans, in a Jan. 28 win over DuVal. “I've never shot — I've never played with anyone who can shoot that well.”

Through his first 18 games, Evans made 56 3-pointers, an average of 3.11 per game. Since Dec. 18, there has been just one instance, a 49-40 win against Charles H. Flowers, in which Evans was held to less than three long-range shots. More than 65 percent of his 252 points through those 18 games have come from beyond the arc and, most impressively, Evans is coverting 44 percent of his shots from 3-point land.

“We know that three is definitely more than two,” Parkdale coach Tremaine Price said. Evans scored 21 points on four 3-pointers against the Panthers. “So you definitely got to take that into account. Evans, he's so deadly from outside, you definitely don't want him to get a clean look. You definitely want to push him as far from the 3-point line as possible, but that's tough because he keeps making it no matter how far he is.”

The senior guard has proven to be capable of hitting in any situation, over any defense, from almost any distance, and certainly on a more consistent basis than anybody else in the county. DuVal knows. Gwynn Park knows. Henry A. Wise knows. Evans has hit game-winners against all of them in the past two years.

“I don't know how much I believe in the clutch thing,” Roosevelt coach Brendan O'Connell said. “But he practices at full speed every time ... every time he touches the ball [in practice] it's like it's the last shot or to tie.”

In 2008, O'Connell was told by George Wake, the former Fairmont Heights coach and a friend of Evans' father, that he had a special player coming his way.

“He was very smart,” O'Connell recalled of his first impression of Evans. “He could shoot it well, but sort of struggled to get the shot off.”

But when joining a supporting cast with the likes of Matey in the backcourt, 6-foot-7 Holy Cross recruit Malachi Alexander in the post and uber-athletic swingman Tiwian Kendley, the struggles didn't matter much. Others could create for him. All he had to do was create space.

“A lot of [his success] is being in the right spot,” O'Connell said. “The two of them work really well off each other. Trevor has gotten really good at spacing the floor, and now that everybody knows what a shooter he is, everybody has to get out to guard that, and that opens up for our guys inside. He makes the defenders choose, 'Am I going to help or am I going to stay on him for the ball?'”

Price — the Panthers lost 70-63 to the Raiders — mirrored that sentiment.

“You got to take all those guys into account,” he said. “It's not like you can leave them alone.”

Like any 3-point specialist, Evans will fall into cold spells. His remedy? Keep shooting.

“[O'Connell] has told me I have the green light,” Evans said. “I try to shoot myself out of a cold streak.”

What gets lost in all the buzz about Evans' ability to knock down 3-pointers or his all-but automatic 94 percent free throw shooting is his dedication on the other end of the floor. Anybody who has seen a Roosevelt game understands that no player fits into O'Connell's system if he doesn't play defense and Evans, possibly the team's most potent threat on offense, is also considered one of the Raiders' top two defenders.

“He's always in the right spot,” O'Connell said. “He's very smart. If there's a shooter that we need to guard, we're probably going to put Trevor on him.”

tmewhirter@gazette.net