Shannon Evans granted full release to transfer from UB
Say goodbye to Hollywood?
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 was granted a release from his UB scholarship Tuesday and is currently speaking with other schools about transferring. UB Athletics will allow Evans to attend any school he chooses, but the All-Mid-American Conference Second Team player has not completely ruled out the possibility of staying with the Bulls.
Numerous schools around the country contacted Evans, he said, including St. Johns, Miami, Boston College and Arizona State. According to NCAA rules, if Evans transfers out of the Buffalo program, he will be ineligible for the 2015-16 basketball season.
The release came Tuesday morning after a tumultuous Monday between Evans and the athletic department.
Evans told several media outlets, including The Spectrum, that he wanted to transfer from the program and that Athletic Director Danny White did not care about his future. White was unable to meet with Evans early Monday and UB Athletics originally told Evans it would block him from transferring to schools he was interested in like Arizona State, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Virginia Tech.
The website Western New York “Big 4” Talk was the first to report Evans was transferring.
White and Evans later met Monday evening, after which Evans said he and White were on the same page and that White cares about his future. White released a statement Tuesday morning regarding Evans’ release.
“After learning about the request for a release [Monday], and meeting with the student-athlete, I have decided that granting Shannon Evans a full release to transfer to any school in the country is in his best interest,” White said. “We wish Shannon nothing but the best in his future, academic and athletic pursuits."
Evans found out he was free to leave the program at around 11 a.m. Tuesday in an email from UB Athletics. He called it a “real high-class move by the administration” to grant him his release.
Evans said he thinks all NCAA student-athletes should have the right to explore any school they wish to attend and not be blocked by their school. He also lauded White and said many athletic directors would not grant a full transfer release to a player.
Evans said he has “been on the fence” as to whether he should stay or transfer since Hurley left for Arizona State a few weeks ago. Hurley guided Buffalo to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance this season in his second and final year with the team.
UB Athletics granted Evans full rights to speak to every school in the country, including programs within the conference, but Evans said he is not interested in transferring to a MAC school.
Before granting Evans to go to any program, White told The Spectrum 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.”
Evans said he spoke with Hurley Tuesday morning after the release for the first time since the coach’s departure. Due to NCAA rules, the two had been unable to speak before Evans was officially released.
“It was an exciting conversation. We both wanted to talk for days,” Evans said. “We didn’t want to hang up the phone … It was a short conversation but he told me he was excited for me. He wants me, but he wants me to weigh my options to find my best fit as a player.”
But White said UB Athletics is looking into any kind of “impermissible contact that may have occurred” between Evans and Arizona State before Evans’ release Tuesday. He said if Arizona State committed tampering, it would be an NCAA violation.
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 Boston College head coach Jim Christian is the only other coach he had spoken with besides Hurley as of Tuesday morning.
Evans spoke out against White and UB Athletics Monday afternoon before the two sides reconciled Monday evening. Evans told White he wanted to speak about his future when the two ran into each other in Alumni Arena, 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 SpectrumMonday 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 canceled two meetings to meet with Evans Monday night.
White said he always wants what’s best for his student-athletes and that he regrets the two could not have worked out a time to meet earlier.
“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 told The Spectrum Monday afternoon that while Monday was the first day he had approached White, he felt the administration should have approached him about his future. He also said that the department had been “shady” and not the same since Hurley left.
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 in leading 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.” On April 11, Evans tweeted “So proud of my guy [Nate Oats]!” in response to the decision to make Oats the next head coach of the basketball program.
Evans said the reason 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 SpectrumMonday 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 expects to know where he’ll play next year around the beginning of May. He said he’d consult with his family, friends and teammates about his future. Evans is open to going anywhere in the country, but is still considering Buffalo as an option.
“The last few weeks have been kind of crazy. What happened yesterday and today is overwhelming, but it’s a good feeling,” Evans said Tuesday. “I feel like Buffalo is my home. I can’t close the door on Buffalo just yet. I love it here.”
Owen O'Brien contributed reporting to this story.
Jordan Grossman is the senior sports editor and Tom Dinki is acting Editor in Chief. Questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org