Earlier this week Indiana offered a scholarship to class of 2023 5-star forward Kwame Evans, Jr.
Evans, Jr., the No. 2 player in the class according to the 247Sports Composite, is attending Montverde Academy in Florida and plays AAU basketball for Team Durant.
In order to learn more about the Baltimore, Md. prospect we spoke with Team Durant Director of Recruiting Dwayne Wise, who has grown up with his father, Kwame Evans, Sr., since kindergarten. Evans, Sr. was involved in the conversation briefly as well.
Here is our Q&A with Wise.
TDH: How far back does Indiana assistant Kenya Hunter go back with the Evans family?
Wise: The relationship started when Hunter and Big Kwame played in the Atlantic 10. Hunter also has a good relationship with our 17U coach.
Evans, Sr.: Me and coach Kenya Hunter go back to 1992, he played with Duquesne University and I played with GW.
TDH: How long has Hunter/Indiana been involved in this recruitment?
Evans, Sr.: Coach Hunter came to Poly (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute) two years ago, and that’s the first time we had a conversation about K.J. (Kwame, Jr.). Kenya has been in contact with me since 2019.
Wise: I’m actually glad that Indiana is recruiting him. I know that another kid at Montverde (Jalen Hood-Schifino) just committed there. That’s a good deal. I’m glad that they are reaching out, doing a Zoom call, making the kid feel appreciated. I’m involved in most of what is going on his recruitment, but Indiana is different. That came through Big Kwame, and they might be one of two schools that I haven’t been directly involved with, and that’s good thing (for IU) because there are relationships with the family.
I told Kwame, Jr., Indiana was always a big time school, it just seemed like over the last few years they just kind of lost their swagger.
TDH: Give me the scout on Kwame, Jr. What makes him a 5-star?
Wise: I’ve been with him from middle school until now, and the first thing that stood out about him and still stands out about him is IQ. That’s his greatest asset is his IQ. Since middle school he has always played the right way. You can’t speed him up, you can’t slow him down, you can’t force him to make a bad play or pass, he’s only going to take good shots, he rebounds the ball, he blocks shots and he defends. So his IQ for the game is just different.
Number two is his ability to switch on defense. He’s not like a traditional big man, he’s like a guard who just happened to have grown to 6-foot-10. That lateral quickness is still there, even at 6-foot-10. We have games on the EYBL like when we played E1T1, and he guarded the point guard, man-to-man. He can guard every position from the one to the five. He slides his feet well and he knows how to defend without fouling. This kid doesn’t really want you to be scoring.
(Note: Wise said the 6-foot-10 measurement is with shoes on, and he has a 7-foot-2 wingspan. His father was a guard at 6-foot-6)
The other thing is his shooting ability at his size. He was right under 40 percent from three. He can also score with either hand. He’s a lefty but he scores with his right, he can drive going right, he can dunk going right. He’s also a very good ball handler for his size. He can lead the break, and he makes better passes than a lot of the point guards in that class. His versatility is probably his greatest asset. He checks all the boxes.
His dad could always shoot the ball. Certain things were always in his genes, so if I didn’t know anything else, I’d say he was going to be at least 6-foot-6 and could shoot because of his dad, but handling the ball, defending, he’s just much better than his dad was at this age.
TDH: What do you think Montverde is going to do for him?
Wise: Because it is so competitive down there, they are going to push you to play hard every play, and just get a little bit stronger, I think that is where Montverde can close the gap. I think he can be the number one player in his class.
When he was leaving to go to Montverde he was well groomed about what that program is about. He was at a school with limited travel games and competition. And not just games, just practicing every day against other high major players and pro potential players every day, you can’t do nothing but get better.
He was never told that he is going to start there. He was told he has to compete for everything that he has. Everybody can’t go to a school like Montverde and handle it, but he comes from a disciplined household.
Nobody at Montverde averages 18-20 points a game. It’s about playing hard and whatever minutes you got, and he already knows that. At Poly he had to fight for minutes as a freshman, so he is not going to run from competition.
(Note: Evans, Jr. will team up with IU 2022 commit Jalen Hood-Schifino at Montverde)
TDH: What kind of things do you think will be important to him when it comes to pick a college?
Wise: My personal opinion, fit, not pigeon-holing him to just being a big man because he’s 6-foot-10. Allowing him to utilize his overall skillset and IQ for the game.
TDH: Have they talked at all about when they might make a college decision? And is going direct to pro an option?
Wise: From me talking to the family and KJ, I am pretty sure he won’t make a decision until his senior year. I don’t see him going anywhere early. I do know he’s going to go to college. He’s a 3.5 (GPA) student. He could change his mind but that’s what is being emphasized to him.
5⭐️ Kwame “KJ” Evans (#4 in the ESPN 60) is taking his game to a new level 😤 the 6’9 do it all forward holds offers from Kansas, Georgetown, Auburn, Texas, and more! @KwameEvansJr @NikeEYB #EYBL2021 @Dwayne_Wise @MVABasketball @NIBCOfficial pic.twitter.com/cf7DUQLz7N
— Who's Next (@WhosNextHS) July 20, 2021
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