Evans Hopes Hard Work Pays Off

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Jontel Evans may need to finish around the rim more to keep defenses honest.

Jontel Evans is just a sophomore. In fact, he’s the only sophomore on the Virginia basketball team. Of course, on a team with six scholarship freshmen and a walk-on youngster to boot, he’s one of the old veterans by comparison.

At the very least, Evans can provide perspective for the influx of incoming freshmen. Just one year ago, the Hampton, Va., native was thrust into the ACC boiler and asked to be part of the Cavaliers’ rotation. Evans’ advice for the newcomers is simple, but important for a group that will try to help Virginia’s hardwood fortunes turn toward better days.

“My best advice is just to listen to everybody that’s in our program, the coaches, players, everybody that’s trying to help you – just listen to them and take everything slow so you can adjust well,” Evans said. “Just be confident, just play your game, and don’t let anybody get you down and stay confident.”

Finding and maintaining confidence is something that Evans will be trying to do this season as well, at least on the offensive end. A year ago, he learned just how hard life in the ACC can be as conference opponents dropped off of him on defense and dared him to shoot jumpers. That, of course, allowed an extra defender to help harass the post area around Mike Scott and Jerome Meyinsse and step in against drivers like Sylven Landesberg and Mustapha Farrakhan .

Gone were the days of high school where the jet-quick point guard could blow past defenders trying to defend him tightly and use his running back body to shield and bump his way to points in the paint. The sagging strategy on defense combined with the bigger post players found in Division I shut down those strengths.

“A lot of teams in the ACC played so far off of me because they knew I couldn’t shoot and that’s