Iowa basketball has had a lot of players looking for the exit door this offseason (or the doctor's office, in Jordan Bohannon's case). Those departures took a significant toll on Iowa's depth, especially in the backcourt, where they were looking to return only one player with any NCAA experience whatsoever (Connor McCaffery) if Jordan Bohannon does end up having to redshirt season after offseason hip surgery.
Now they're going to have a bit more experience in the backcourt, as Bakari Evelyn announced his plans to transfer to Iowa on Sunday night:
Evelyn, a grad transfer from Valparaiso, has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining and is eligible to play immediately. For an Iowa team in dire need of experienced bodies in the backcourt, his arrival is very welcome news indeed.
Evelyn's collegiate path has been a winding one; he was a prep in the Detroit area (and was recruited by Iowa at the time, per Evans himself) and actually began his college career in the Big Ten, at Nebraska. He played 17 games for the Huskers in 2015-16, in very limited minutes -- he averaged only 5.2 minutes per game and scored 1.4 ppg. Evelyn then transferred to Valparaiso and after sitting out the 2016-17 season, returned to the court in 2017-18.
The 2017-18 season was Evelyn's best so far; he played 31.4 minutes per game for the Crusaders, averaging 12.6 ppg on 44.9% FG shooting (38.3 3FG%), 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg, and 1.4 steals per game. Evelyn's numbers dipped last year -- he played 28.7 minutes per game, but averaged 8.4 ppg on 33.6% FG shooting (30.6 3FG%), 2.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, and 0.6 steals per game -- but he was also dealing with a lingering ankle injury. Hopefully he's fully healed and ready to go for Iowa in November.
Evelyn has primarily played point guard in college and he indicated in an interview with The Des Moines Register that that's where he'll probably see the most time at Iowa as well:
"I know he would play me at the 1 a lot, but he also knows and says I’m kind of bigger in size and I can play off the ball, on the ball," Evelyn said. "So I’m pretty solidly sure I’d play the 1 and the 2, but I don’t know how the lineups would work or anything."
Certainly if Bohannon is out for the season, Iowa will have a glaring need for an experienced face at the point guard spot. That said, among Iowa's guard options in 2019-20, McCaffery and incoming freshman Joe Toussaint also profile as best fits at the point guard slot. Iowa's only option at the other guard spot is redshirt freshman C.J. Fredrick, although swingman Joe Wieskamp figures to see a fair amount of playing time there as well. If Evelyn is able to recapture his sophomore year shooting form (12.6 ppg, 44.9 FG%, 38.3 3FG%; and his numbers were even better in Missouri Valley Conference play -- 14 ppg and 42% from 3-point range), he could be a welcome outside shooting threat at the off-guard spot as well.
But there's plenty of time for Fran & Co. to experiment with lineup combinations and rotation concepts this summer and fall. We're just happy to have another face in the backcourt mix, period, and Evelyn looks like he has the talent and the upside to be more than just "another face," too. We're definitely going to be rooting for him to have a standout senior season. Welcome to Iowa, Bakari.