Inside the Pack: Jerry Evans Jr.
Dec. 19, 2013
Editor's Note: Jake Ward is a fourth-year journalism student who interns with Nevada Media Services
Jerry Evans, Jr. was first introduced to basketball by his mom. She used to play herself, so it was only natural she passed it on. When he was just a boy, he would sit with his family and watch games on TV. Growing up in Los Angeles, there was no doubt that Jerry was a Lakers fan. The purple and gold is as synonymous with the city as the stars on Hollywood Boulevard. But the mid to late 90s meant one dynasty -- all of the trophies and rings were going to the guys donning the red and black: Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
"I was a big Jordan fan as a kid," Evans said. "I wanted the all Jordan shoes, I wanted to be like Mike basically."
Basketball had always been more of a hobby to Jerry when he was younger. It gave him something to do with all the kids on the blacktop at lunch time. But that all started to change come high school.
Jerry went to Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif. At only five feet and eight inches tall when he started as a freshman, Jerry sprouted a foot in height those four years. He tried out for and made the basketball team all four years in high school.
Jerry's family would come to watch the games when they could. When they did, they got a show that would have been fit for the likes of the Staples Center. By the time Evans was a senior, he was named the MVP of the Bay League on a team that was ranked sixth in the state of California. Jerry averaged 15.3 points per game and 7.4 rebounds per game. He shot an outstanding 54.6 percent while leading Leuzinger to a 26-7 record that season.
"We were playing really well as a collective group," he said. "Our team just went to a different level, I think we were ranked 40th in the nation. We had a chance to be state champs."
After high school, Jerry was being recruited by Iowa State to play basketball. The only problem was the school is 1,736 miles from Los Angeles to Ames, Iowa. That meant he would always be that far away from his family. He would be a full 24 hour drive away from the one who first introduced him to the sport. Then came the University of Nevada.
"I'm a family person, I wanted to be close to my family," he said. "I didn't want to be too far away from home. Coach Brown and coach Carter were recruiting me hard, and it was so close. I felt like this was the best decision for me."
After redshirting his first year at Nevada, Evans jumped right into the fold during his first full year of college ball. He saw action in 31 games that season, and heard his name called in the starting line ups 20 times, including the last 14 games of the season. He kept that momentum rolling into the next season, when the Pack brought home the Western Athletic Conference championship.
Evans was named to the WAC Defensive team after starting all 35 games during the championship season. He hit double digit points 11 times, including his career high 19 points against San Jose State in January 2012. But it was what the team accomplished that he was more proud of.
"It was a great accomplishment for us," Evans said. "We turned it around, and the collective of all the guys buying in, and going out and winning every night, we felt like we couldn't lose. It was just something we knew, confidence is everything in this sport."
Evans followed up his sophomore campaign by scoring in double digit points six times as a junior, and was the only player other than Deonte Burton or Malik Story to lead the Pack in scoring. Eight times he grabbed double digit rebounds, with six times being game highs. He also kept up his defensive toughness, and was the Wolf Pack's top perimeter defender.
"We pressed the whole game in high school, so that plays a big part in the way I play defense," he said. "And it's just effort, honestly. That's what defense is. It's not taking plays off. The same goes for rebounding -- It's not the strongest who's the best, it's how bad do you want it and how bad are you willing to get it."
This season will mark the 100th game with the Wolf Pack in Evans career. Despite the milestone, there are still goals that Evans wants to accomplish before he leaves.
"It will be a special moment," he said. "Not everyone gets a chance to play 100 games in college, I'm blessed.
"But there are still goals I have to accomplish. I want to go to the NCAA tournament, and that's No. 1 on my list. I feel I have to get there before college is over, that's the dream goal."
Along with being apart of the chaos known as March Madness, there is still one big thing that Evans has not been able to do at Nevada.
"I have to beat UNLV," he said. "I haven't done it since I've been here, so I have to beat them."
Looking back on his career here at Nevada, Evans knows that he has had the chance to do something that others dream of -- playing college basketball. And while his time at Nevada is almost up, Evans says this won't be his final stop.
"Everyone doesn't get the opportunity to be where I'm at today," he said. "I'm somewhere I'd never thought I'd be, and I can never get too mad. Looking back, things could always be worse, and I feel like I have it good and I'm taking advantage of it.
"I will play somewhere, I'm not 100 percent sure where. I feel like I have the body and skill sets to play at the next level, it's just me showing it this year and putting myself in the opportunity to make those things happen."
Basketball is no longer just a hobby for Jerry Evans, Jr., something he is thankful for everyday.