Shannon Evans asks for release from UB basketball, considering transfer
The Buffalo men’s basketball team lost its head coach earlier this month when Bobby Hurley accepted the job opening at Arizona State.
Now it may lose one of its best players too.
Sophomore guard Shannon Evans informed several media outlets, including The Spectrum, on Monday that he’s asked UB for his release and is transferring from the program. He’s now saying said he’s open to returning to Buffalo, but still wants his release to speak with other programs and consider his options. UB Athletics has one week to make a decision on whether or not to grant Evans’ request.
The website Western New York “Big 4” Talk was the first to report Evans wanted to transfer.
Evans, an All-Mid-American Conference Second Team player, said he was transferring Monday afternoon because Athletic Director Danny White could not meet with him Monday morning and Athletics said it would block a transfer to certain schools. He said there was nothing White could do to repair their relationship.
The two then met Monday evening, and Evans said the meeting went well and that he and White are now on the same page. White said he canceled two meetings in order to meet with Evans. But the point guard has not ruled out the possibility of transferring and said if UB does not grant his release, he will reconsider his options with his family – including returning to Buffalo.
Evans told The Spectrum Monday afternoon he has “been on the fence” as to whether he should stay or transfer since Hurley left for Arizona State a few weeks ago. Evans said he didn’t feel he was important and a priority for White and UB Athletics after the administration did not approach him about his future.
An encounter with White in Alumni Arena early Monday made Evans ask for his release and speak out against White to the media.
Evans said he ran into the athletic director while leaving the building. Evans told White he wanted to speak about his future, but White said he was too busy and told him to speak with new Bulls head coach Nate Oats.
“I felt like I wasn’t one of [White’s] first priorities,” Evans told The Spectrum Monday afternoon. “I felt like I wasn’t important to him. I felt like my future is very important to me. I wanted to go somewhere where somebody wants the best for my future.”
White said he learned halfway through the day Evans wanted to meet with him and he always wants what’s best for his student-athletes.
“I will always support them and anything they want to do,” White said. “I wished that we could have been organized and scheduled that on the front end.”
Evans said White has his best interests at heart after meeting with him Monday evening.
Evans was also angered after Oats informed him the school would block him from transferring to schools he was interested in, like Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Arizona State and other MAC schools. Evans is a native of Suffolk, Virginia.
White said that every athletic department considers blocking its players from transferring to schools that will it be playing in the next few years. He said “it’s only fair to our players on the team.”
“If you think about it, if he were to transfer to somewhere we are playing next year, for example, and he knows all of our players and tendencies of his former teammates, that’s not really fair to the other kids on the team, so that would be something we would consider. But we have not made any final decisions,” White said.
Evans said he understands UB not allowing him to transfer to another MAC school, but Buffalo should not block him from going to a program in a more high profile conference.
“I played my a** off here for these guys. They should have the respect for me to let me go wherever I want to go outside of the MAC conference,” Evans said Monday afternoon. “I can see if I was trying to go to another Mid-Major, but I’m trying to go somewhere higher. They’re trying to limit that for me. I feel like that’s not fair.”
Evans said Hurley was his “best friend” and said he was “heartbroken” when Hurley accepted the Sun Devils head coaching position. He would be open to a reunion with Hurley at Arizona State.
White said UB Athletics is looking into any kind of “impermissible contact that may have occurred” between Evans and Arizona State. He said if Arizona State committed tampering, it would be an NCAA violation and cause for UB to block Evans from attending the school.
When The Spectrum asked White if he had any reason to believe a violation occurred, White said, “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to speak about that at this point.”
Evans said that because of NCAA rules, he has not spoken with Hurley since the coach announced he was leaving Buffalo.
White reiterated that UB Athletics has not made any final decisions on what schools it would block Evans from attending if they grant him his release.
This isn’t the first time Evans has threatened to leave Buffalo. When former head coach Reggie Witherspoon was fired in 2013, Evans asked for his release papers and announced he was de-committing on Twitter.
Hurley’s hire convinced Evans to recommit to the program.
Evans has been known for his on-court charisma and flashy playing style in his two seasons at Buffalo. He’s had the nickname ‘Hollywood’ since high school. This past season, Evans averaged 15.4 points and 4.6 assists, started all 33 games and led the Bulls to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Evans said his decision to ask for a release was not because of Oats’ hire. Evans said he and Oats have a “great relationship” and would “never go behind his back.” He said Oats was the best choice to replace Hurley.
Evans said he wasn’t available for the media at Oats’ introductory press conference because he knew questions about his future would be asked and he did not want to take the spotlight away from Oats.
While speaking with The Spectrum Monday afternoon, Evans thanked UB and its fans for the past two seasons.
“Thank you, especially to the community and the True Blue student section,” Evans said. “They made my college experience wild. I really enjoyed every minute being here. I just want to say thank you to everyone.”
Evans said he and White are on same page about their misunderstanding earlier on Monday and that him staying in Buffalo is not off the table. Evans said if White doesn’t grant his release, he’ll speak with his family and possibly appeal.
The Spectrum has updated this story to include comments from Athletic Director Danny White and to reflect Evans’ new stance on his future.
Owen O’Brien contributed reporting to this story.
Tom Dinki and Jordan Grossman can both be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org