OAKLAND — The back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors wanted a wing. With the NBA Draft being the best avenue to get younger and more athletic, Golden State wanted somebody who could play right away.
With the No. 28 overall pick, the Warriors drafted Cincinnati guard Jacob Evans, out of Baton Rouge, La. At 6-foot-6,210 pounds, Evans is the prototype for what Golden State wanted with the pick. He’s the most pro-ready player available, with a high basketball IQ. He worked out twice with the Warriors, including once this week.
“He’s kind of the modern NBA wing,” said general manager Bob Myers. “Versatile, tough and a high-character kid, so we’re thrilled … For us, when our pick was up, it was clear it was him. There was no debate, as far as who we were taking. The board, when it got to us, he was the guy, without hesitation.”
Evans is the son of former Grambling women’s point guard Theresa Chatman-Evans, who raised three boys as a single mother. Lightly recruited out of St. Michael the Archangel High School, where he dealt with a broken leg and a nagging ankle injury, Evans was scouted by Bearcats assistant Larry Davis, who eventually convinced head coach Mick Cronin to sign him.
“He’s a winner,” Cronin said in a statement. “He shoots a high percentage. He’s an elite defender. He blocks shots. He guards point guards. He rebounds. He just does so many things, and he’s a coach on the floor. He’s such a smart player.”
In a wing-heavy draft, Evans was someone the Warriors had rated higher than his eventual No. 28 spot.
“He can guard the one, two, three. He can switch screens in the modern game we’re dealing with,” Myers said. “It’s not many players that can guard Western Conference point guards, Western Conference two-guards, three’s. That’s a skill right there.”
Evans is an aggressive defender with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He’s a competitive rebounder and an effective communicator. He played point — like his mother — in high school, but then grew two inches and found himself on the perimeter or the Bearcats, where he finished with a career 37.7 percent 3-point shooting mark, fifth-best all-time at Cincinnati.
“You see guys come in the league and you put some time in and become a better 3-point shooter,” Myers said. “We’re not a team that, if you’re playing with our main guys, you don’t have to score, but you do have to defend. So, we see that in him.”
This past season, Evans was the top scorer (13.0 points per game) on a team that had four double-digits scorers, and averaged 74.3 points per game, and had a 2.1 assists-to-turnovers ratio. He shot 42.7 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range, and averaged 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 3.1 assists per game.
“They didn’t really see me play on the ball a lot until my last year — I did a little bit in the pick-and-roll,” Evans said after his predraft workout Wednesday at Golden State’s practice facility. “But I feel like, me just being a basketball player, with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, just being able to do a lot of things on the court, using the pick-and-roll, using ball screens, coming off ball screens and knocking down open shots. I feel like you can put me anywhere.”
Despite being 6-foot-6, averaged one block per game, as well. Evans earned an American Athletic Conference First-Team selection and was a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
In his career at Cincinnati, he’s averaged 11.7 points, 2.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game.
The Warriors draft profile of Evans says his strengths are his size and athleticism, which pair with a versatile skill set. He likes to attack close-outs and is an aggressive straight-line driver in the open floor. As a junior, he started playing point a bit more in the pick-and-roll, so there’s a possibility that he could serve in that role should the Warriors want to move Steph Curry off the ball upon occasion.
“He’s a guy that’s defensive-minded. You don’t see a ton of college kids locked in on that side of the ball,” Myers said. “Has kind of a knack for it — on-the-ball defender, off-the-ball defender, he had a nose for rebounding. You can picture him playing in an NBA game, is what I walked away [thinking], and the feeling in our draft room is that you can play this guy.”