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Jacob Evans Season in Review

Evans was a slow burn for the Bearcats, starting off with a small role that he expanded throughout the season until he became as indispensable as anyone.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 8.4 points, 13.8 per 40 minutes
  • 4.1 rebounds, 6.7 per 40 minutes
  • 0.8 blocks, 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes
  • .372/.333/.804 shooting splits
Am I excited about year two of the Jacob Evans experience? I don't know. Maybe.
But before we can get to that, we need to review the first year for the forward from Louisiana. Evans did not immediately ascend to promising star, as he struggled a bit to find his role and minutes to go with it in the early going and much of the middle portion of the season. However, in the last month or so, we saw the rise of Cincinnati's future. It all culminated in his exquisite performance against St. Joseph's in the NCAA Tournament, when he scored 26 points and ripped down nine rebounds.

That was, (hopefully) a taste of things to come, but it was certainly not a continuation of his production from his entire freshmen season. Those 26 points per by far a career-high for Evans, who averaged a more meager, yet still respectable 8.4 points per game, which ranked fifth on the team behind Troy Caupain, Farad Cobb, Gary Clark and Octavius Ellis. He accumulated 12 double-digit scoring games, including four in the last six contests of the campaign. The recruit advertised as the rare offense-first addition for Cincinnati did his share to show he has the offensive chops that UC usually needs desperately. However, efficiency was not always Evans' friend. He shot below 40 percent on the season and posted a true shooting percentage (.497) and an effective field goal percentage (.460) in a range that doesn't fit an overly effective volume scorer. Additionally, in 22 games he made 40 percent or less of his field goal attempts.

The scoring will develop but what was most inspiring for the Bearcat faithful has to be how Evans dedicated himself to being more than just a guy who puts points on the board. He bought in to the vaunted defensive obsession of Cincinnati, posting a defensive rating of 96.6 and actually earning more defensive win shares (1.6) than offensive (1.5). That effort and production was why Mick Cronin finally realized that Evans was the best option as the fifth starter when the Bearcats hit critical mass during the last few weeks of the season. He wasn't a double-double machine like Clark or a stat-sheet stuffer like Ellis, but he still did solid work in contributing when it came to rebounds, steals and blocks.

This is still Caupain and Clark's team, but Evans is the future and that became clearer and clearer as the season wore on.

The Best of the Best

Friday March 18 vs. St. Joseph's

In his fifth-straight game of at least 34 minutes, Evans was a go-to scorer in a game that the Bearcats could have (and should have) won. He netted 10-of-20 shots from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range. And don't worry clutch-truthers, he hit a few of those in crunch time.

While the memory of the final seconds of that game bring sour thoughts to mind, Evans set himself up nicely for a summer of hype.

Wednesday December 12 vs. Butler

Either no one told Evans that this was his first time playing a team with the potential to be nationally ranked or he just didn't care. He scored 16 points, which at the time was a career-best and also matched four rebounds with four assists. This also was one of four games in which he knocked down at least four triples.

For Next Year

We've already touched on this a bit. Evans did great things for a freshman. Now he has to just do great things period. DTD isn't the only place that thinks he is capable. It starts with efficiency. If he is going to be the offensive savior of this program, he has to net 45 percent from the floor at the very least. On top of being more consistent in terms of shooting, he needs to continue to show that he is just as invested on defense, the boards and in making everyone else around him better. Those traits, perhaps more than his offensive talent, is what has UC fans (DTD included, obviously) excited for year two.