Welcome to A10 Talk’s postseason Top 25 player countdown where we’ll be breaking down the best players in the Atlantic 10 this past year, as voted on by our staff. Each day, we’ll release a new article as we unveil our list. Today, we start with #2 Marcus Evans of VCU.
What he did
Back in October, it was unclear as to whether or not Marcus Evans would be available for a good portion of the season due to injury. VCU fans are thanking their lucky stars the junior got to play in the Rams’ first game of the season. The Rice transfer exploded onto the scene immediately, dropping 21 points in a crucial win over Temple in just the Rams’ 4th game of the season. Evans proved to be a vital contributor in all facets of the game, especially on defense. In a year with arguably the best defense since the Shaka Smart era, VCU’s lockdown mentality was spearheaded by Evans, a guy who was top 20 nationally in steal percentage. Though Evans struggled with his three point shot last year, he found other ways to contribute on offense. Evans had the 7th best assist rate in conference play, setting his teammates up to score with frequency. He also drew the most fouls per 40 minutes in the entire conference, getting ample opportunities to score at the free throw line. Marcus Evans was VCU’s Renaissance Man this past season, and 2019-20 should be very similar in all regards. His absence in the A-10 tourney quarterfinals hurt VCU’s chances at a league title, and there’s no doubt he wasn’t 100% in the NCAA Tournament against UCF.
What he’ll do
Marcus Evans will come back fully healthy in 2019-20, a year where VCU could be ranked in the top 25 before the season starts. The expectations for this club haven’t been this high in awhile, and coach Mike Rhoades really has this team headed in the right direction. Evans will continue to be the ringleader at the Siegel Center, as he always seems to have the ball in his hands when the team needs a big bucket. If Evans can improve from long range, he’ll be that much more deadly. He currently lives inside the three point line, scoring at the rim through contact and on midrange pull up shots. As I mentioned, his defense is also the most dangerous aspect of his game. Evans should continue to improve, and he’ll give Jon Axel Gudmundsson and the rest of the Atlantic 10 a run for Player of the Year come March.