When you are a fan of a certain team, sometimes you fear that the rest of the league/conference/nation/humanity does not share your opinions and therefore is unaware of just how good Player X is. That is not something fans of the Cincinnati Bearcats have to worry about when it comes to Jacob Evans. The second-year Bearcat is avoiding the whole sophomore slump thing and has been one of the best shooting guards in the country. We know this and it appears people at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame are aware as well. The top 10 finalists for the Jerry West Award, which is awarded by the HOF, were released and Evans is at the top of the list
Ten finalists for the Jerry West Award, given to the nation's best shooting guard: pic.twitter.com/1faubSSFdK— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) January 31, 2017
What’s that? He’s only at the top because its listed alphabetically by school? Naw. I don’t believe you.
Seriously speaking, Evans is a deserving candidate for the largely new award. Evans is scoring 14.4 points per game while throwing up shooting splits that are extremely solid (.493/.400/.727). He is also averaging 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while being a constant threat to end an opposing position early, grabbing 1.3 steals a contest.
If you want to dive a bit deeper, you’ll find even more reason to support Evans’ case. As his strong shooting numbers would suggest, Evans is a volume scorer who shoots efficiently. He has posted a PER of 23.6 through 21 games, matching that with a true shooting percentage of .610 and an effective field goal percentage of .583. His offensive rating of 127.8 is third in the American Athletic Conference, but that offensive success does not belie shortcomings on defense. An aggressive and effective defender, Evans’ defensive rating (94.0) is solid, while he has 1.4 defensive win shares this season. That may be below the 2.3 he has on the offensive side, but it still illustrates his ability as a two-way player.
Evans had a quiet 10 points in UC’s last time out, but that was a symptom of the absolute beatdown the Bearcats put on USF than ineffective play from the sophomore from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the game before that, Evans showed up in a major way, scoring 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting in UC’s Crosstown Shootout victory over rival Xavier. Evans has scored at least 20 points in four games this season and has been in double figures in all but two.
If Evans were to win this award he would join a small but elite group of players as the award, which was first given out in 2015, has previously gone to Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield.
As Mick Cronin and the Bearcats continue to slowly develop a more rounded approach to the game (read: they do more than just defend), Evans is at the very forefront. Its good to see people outside the Queen City are paying attention.