UB guard Shannon Evans transfers to Arizona State
Evans to reunite with Bobby Hurley
After being granted his full release from UB earlier in the week, men’s basketball sophomore guard Shannon Evans has found a new home.
Evans announced Friday that he will transfer to Arizona State – a move that reunites him with former Bulls head coach Bobby Hurley, who left Buffalo to coach the Sun Devils on April 9. Evans will have to sit out the 2015-16 season but will have two seasons of eligibility remaining afterward.
“In going to Arizona State, I have a better opportunity for me to play at the highest level to play at in a Power Five conference and play with coaches I trust and started my career with,” Evans said. “It’s something that’s better for me and my career.”
Evans helped lead the Bulls to a 23-10 record and the program’s first-ever Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance last season as a sophomore. He was also named Second Team All-MAC.
Buffalo Athletic Director Danny White told The Spectrum on April 20 that UB Athletics was looking to see if Arizona State had any “impermissible contact” with Evans before his release, which could be an NCAA violation. When The Spectrum asked White if he had any reason to believe that Arizona State committed tampering by speaking to Evans before his release, White said he didn’t think it would be appropriate for him to speak about it “at this point.”
Evans told The Spectrum on April 21 that the day he was released was the first time he had spoken to Hurley since the coach left for Arizona State on April 9. Evans said the two “didn’t want to hang up the phone” and wanted to talk for days.
Evans visited Arizona State Friday and Hurley offered his former point guard a scholarship.
“[Hurley] told me that I had to earn everything [at Arizona State] like I did at Buffalo,” Evans said. “He’s a great coach and said he wanted me to join his team. His style of play matched my style of play perfectly and he’s offering me the chance to live my dream.”
Evans said that he plans to finish out the semester at UB before fully transferring to Arizona State. He said that along with Hurley, his parents and former Buffalo and current Arizona State assistant coach Levi Watkins were “instrumental” in his decision to head to Tempe, Arizona.
Evans called the transfer from Buffalo the hardest decision of his life.
“This is truly the toughest decision I ever had to make,” Evans said. “I love Buffalo – both the school and the community – but I know that this opportunity doesn’t come often. I know that there’s some risk in the move, but for my career, I’m willing to take the risk.”
Evans was known for his flashy on-court demeanor and playing style that made him a fan favorite for UB’s student section. Kyle Hughes, a freshman business major and member of True Blue, said his favorite Evans moment was the Bulls’ MAC East-clinching win over Bowling Green in Alumni on March 6 when Evans thought the game ended already and jumped into the crowd to celebrate with True Blue.
“The guy was a fan favorite,” Hughes said. “And for reasons just like that. We loved him. And he loved to interact with us.”
Alessandro Carusone, a sophomore communication major, said he was initially shocked about Evans’ departure from the Buffalo program and felt the City of Buffalo was “betrayed.” After “cooling off” for a couple of days, Carusone said he understood Evans’ decision because of his close relationship with Hurley.
“At first, I felt betrayed,” Carusone said. “But who didn’t? The city as a whole really came around to like Shannon. True Blue loved Shannon. True Blue lived for Shannon. They set off him, he set them off. It was a really good relationship.”
Evans took to Twitter multiple times to speak about his loyalty and love for Buffalo. He frequently used the hashtag #ForeverABull and tweeted congratulations to new Bulls head coach Nate Oats about his hire.
Hughes said he thinks Evans’ heart was always in the right place despite what some may say.
“I definitely think he means what he says,” Hughes said. “I believe it when he says he loves Buffalo. I’m sure he’s going to find a home out in Arizona where they’re going to be his family – and that’s understandable because that’s what we were here to him.”
Evans’ transfer came roughly four days after he announced his intent to transfer from the program and three days after White granted Evans his full release.
UB Athletics originally told Evans it would block him from transferring to certain schools like Arizona State and other MAC teams. This caused Evans to speak out against White and UB Athletics to several media outlets, including The Spectrum, as he said White did not care about him and his future.
White and Evans met the evening of April 20 and White granted Evans his full release the following day so that the guard could transfer to any school in the country. Evans has since said White cares about him and called the athletic director’s decision to grant his release a “high class move.”
Evans has spoken of his close relationship with Hurley in the past and Hurley often praised the point guard’s playing style. The two could sometimes be seen speaking with one another one-on-one outside of the media room in Alumni Arena after games. Evans’ father, Shannon Evans I, is fan of Duke, where Hurley won two national championships as a player.
Former Bulls head coach Reggie Witherspoon originally recruited Evans to Buffalo. Evans briefly de-committed from the program when Witherspoon was fired in March 2013 but was convinced by Hurley’s hire roughly two weeks later to come back to Buffalo.
Both Carusone and Hughes said they don’t think Evans’ loss will hurt the team next season. Carusone said he believes guards like freshman Lamonte Bearden and transfer Torian Graham will be impactful players next season and expects a breakout year for Bearden if he stays with the program.
Hughes said he is “confident with Oats’ recruiting skills.” He said losing Evans is hard for the program, but “there’s no reason why we can’t win the MAC again next year.”
Evans ended his Buffalo career with averages of 12.2 points and 4.0 assists per game in 62 total games.
Evans gave final words for the people and the community of Buffalo.
“I truly want to thank Buffalo for all of their support,” Evans said. “Our fans, the media, the people who supported us and doubted us. Everyone. It was a fun two years. If our paths ever cross again, I hope they welcome me with open arms.”
Jordan Grossman contributed reporting to this story.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include new information and quotes from Shannon Evans and students.
Quentin Haynes is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org