COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — RayQuan Evans might have started his basketball career playing second fiddle.
But the former Billings Skyview High School standout has been a leading man the past two years, and is set to parlay that into a major college decision.
Evans, who is completing his sophomore year at North Idaho College, is en route to Tallahassee, Fla. this weekend for an official visit with the Florida State men’s basketball program. Evans is drawing interest from programs all over the country after a stellar two-year career at NIC that saw the Cardinals win their second of consecutive Northwest Athletic Conference championships earlier this year.
“It’s been a great two years,” Evans said in a phone interview with MTN Sports. “I learned a lot. I learned how to become a man, a better basketball player, a better student, so I’ve been very thankful the last two years, and it’s been really fun.”
Evans began his career playing for coach Kevin Morales at Skyview but often relinquished the spotlight to older classmates like Kendal Manuel and Tre’von Strong. Evans took the reins in his junior season, averaging 14.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in helping lead Skyview to its second straight Class AA state championship.
He was even better in his senior season: 18.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game. The Falcons finished third that year, with Evans pouring in 38 points in the consolation final to secure a trophy.
Evans originally committed to play college basketball at Rocky Mountain College and had an opportunity at the University of Montana, but he was a non-academic qualifier, meaning he would have had to sit out a year.
Enter, North Idaho College.
“I’ve improved in a lot of aspects. Getting bigger, being in the weight room all the time. Developing my game as in shooting more, because in high school I never really used to shoot the ball, so I’ve been working on that,” Evans said. “Really just becoming a better person since I’ve been in high school.”
“Just understanding the importance of school,” he added. “In high school, I was kind of, not messing around, but I didn’t really take school as serious as I should’ve. Coming here, I’m told every day, ‘You can’t go anywhere unless you get your school done.’ And I’m obviously told by my parents and everything. I’ve been settling down and trying to take it more serious, and it’s gotten me in the position I am.”
Evans has been a star at NIC and has developed into a highly sought recruit. He helped the Cardinals (31-2) to the NWAC championship, recording 32 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals in a 104-73 win over Walla Walla Community College.
Georgetown coach and NBA legend Patrick Ewing was in attendance during NIC’s semifinal games at the NWAC tournament and spoke with Evans after the Cardinals’ semifinal win.
“It was great, and it was also kind of crazy and nerve-racking, because not many people get to see him or see any NBA legends. So, being able to see him, I’m very thankful for that opportunity. It was really fun to play in front of him,” Evans said.
It’s be a whirlwind since. In addition to visits with Florida State and Georgetown, Evans has received scholarship offers from Washington State and Gonzaga. The Cougars had representation in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday to visit with Evans.
On Saturday, Evans will make the trip across the country to visit Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles, who advanced to the Sweet 16 of this year’s NCAA Tournament. FSU, coincidentally, lost to Gonzaga, another one of Evans’ finalists.
“I’m still deciding. I’ve kind of wired down my choices, but I still have yet to make a decision,” said Evans, who didn’t offer any hints to how he’s leaning. “I think I’m going to make a decision here in a couple weeks.”