OAKLAND -- Insofar as they don’t expect to have Nick Young next season and can’t assume they’ll have Patrick McCaw, it's not surprising the Warriors selected Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans III in the first round of the NBA Draft Thursday night.
It is, under the circumstances and given his tools, the logical call.
Evans is a 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing on a team that found itself thin on wings last season. Young and McCaw accounted for half the inventory, and Young was on a one-year contract and McCaw will be a restricted free agent.
Mainstays Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala are the only other wings on the roster.
Most of the players the Warriors brought in for pre-draft workouts were shooting guards or small forwards. Evans, taken with the 28th overall pick, falls into that category. He made two visits, the first on June 12, the day of the championship parade, and the most recent on Wednesday.
“He’s kind of the modern NBA wing: versatile, tough and a high-character kid,” general manager Bob Myers said after the draft. “We’re thrilled. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get him. We had him rated higher than he went to us, and he fits a lot of things we do. So we’re happy.”
Evans, who turned 21 on Monday, led the Bearcats in scoring (13.0 points per game) and assists (3.1) as a junior last season and shot 39.4 percent (129-of-327) from deep over his final two seasons.
But his ability to play immediately while guarding multiple positions was particularly appealing. Evans has been defending three perimeter positions since playing high school ball at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, La.
“He’s a guy who is defensive-minded,” Myers said. “You don’t see a ton of college kids locked in on that side of the ball. He has kind a knack for it, on-the-ball defender or off-the-ball defender. And he had a nose for rebounding.
“So you could picture him playing in an NBA game. And that’s the feeling in our draft room, is that you can play this guy. I don’t think Steve’s going to have any problem putting him out there.”
Born in North Carolina but spending most of his youth in Louisiana, Evans was projected to go as high as the low 20s but no lower than the mid-30s.
Evans worked his way, lifting and sweating all the while, into the NBA. In his first two years at Cincinnati, he transformed his physique from unexceptional to distinctly chiseled, measuring at 6.5 percent body fat at the NBA combine.
“Not all players reach their potential. Jacob is reaching his because h was wiling to work hard,” Cincinnati associate head coach Larry Davis told The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. “He spent extra time in the weight room and on conditioning to transform his body. When some guys were out doing other things, Jacob was in the gym shooting and doing drills.’
Evans was the clear leader on a Bearcats team that went 31-5, the season ending with a 75-73 loss to Nevada in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In addition to scoring and assists, he started every game and led the team in minutes.
“He was one of the smartest players I have ever coached,” Bearcats coach Mick Cronin said in a release. “We take great pride in developing our players and Jacob is a great example what can happen for a young man with talent and a great attitude. We are so proud and extremely excited for him to join the world champions.”