Hoops star Terrell Evans thriving at UVic

Sports | Lifestyle

When talking with anyone about the Vikes men’s basketball team, it’s hard to get far into the conversation without mentioning Terrell Evans. The star fourth-year guard from Las Vegas has been dominant on the court this season, leading the team in points per game, rebounds and steals while helping the Vikes put up an impressive 9–5 record in Canada West play.

Evans has had a basketball in his hands ever since he can remember. “I started dribbling the ball when I was, like, two, three years old,” he says. “I was on my first team when I was in kindergarten. I played on the second-grade team . . . I was the youngest one — I was real small — and I had to play against older kids.”

Evans is quick to credit his family for helping him foster a love of the game from such an early age. “My grandparents were the ones who pushed me towards basketball, and my dad.” Evans hasn’t put the ball down since, playing through high school at Legacy High in Vegas before looking to play college basketball.

He landed at Yakima Valley Community College in Washington. Despite only playing there for two years, Evans has fond memories of his former school. “I had a great experience at Yakima . . . love that place to the death. I really learned a lot, grew as a man and prospered.”

Evans’ play at Yakima quickly put him on other schools’ radars, particularly UVic’s. After Vikes recruiters told head coach Craig Beaucamp about the young star, Beaucamp went to work to try to bring him to UVic. “Coach Beaucamp gave me a call and we scheduled a trip up within a week,” Evans recalls. “I came out here and I fell in love with it right when I stepped on the grounds,” he says of his 2011 visit.

Evans quickly decided UVic was where he wanted to continue his post-secondary career, and he joined the Vikes for the 2011–12 season, but he was not only changing schools; he was changing leagues as well. Joining the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league meant new rules and a new style of play. The 24-second shot clock was something Evans had to get used to (compared to the 35-second clock used in American college basketball). “It’s a way higher level [of competition] from the junior college level to the CIS,” Evans adds.

But Evans received help adjusting to his new team, much of it from Beaucamp. What Evans calls “the mental side of the game as far as owning your own confidence and trusting yourself” is an in-game skill he credits to working with Beaucamp. The veteran head coach, in his 10th year leading the Vikes, has helped Evans develop off the court as well, teaching him about “being a man in life, general rules in life, how to go and handle yourself as a man.”

Evans also gives thanks to his teammates for his success on the floor. “My teammates look out for me a lot. They encourage me to get a lot out of me anywhere on the court.”

While Evans has plenty of help from coaches and players, he does lots on his own to maintain his high level of play. His workout routine is comparable to that of any NBA player and would make most people feel sore just hearing about it.

“I start off with a little bit of cardio, run a couple laps on the treadmill, get the body warmed up. For sure hit the curls, I love the curls, get the biceps right. Couple pull-ups, bench-press, some abs, couple squats. Full-out workout, so it’s pretty cool.” The payoff is easy to see: Evans is often the fastest and most physical player on any given night.

After blazing out to a fast start this season, the Vikes have slowed down in recent weeks, including two heartbreaking buzzer-beater losses at McKinnon Gym in mid-January to the Winnipeg Wesmen and the Manitoba Bisons. Evans believes there is plenty of time for the Vikes to regain their early season form, however. “We had a hiccup [Jan. 11–12.]. It was pretty tough. We’re moving past that  . . . ain’t no more playing around. Every game has to be serious in order to get to where we want to be.”

The Vikes certainly applied a serious attitude to their next set of games, cruising past the Regina Cougars 79–55 on Jan. 18 before downing the Brandon Bobcats 78–52 the next night. Evans was dominant against Regina, shooting 11–14 from the field while putting up a game high 26 points. Evans chipped in against Brandon with a game high 10 rebounds to help ensure the win. The wins move the Vikes into second in the Canada West Pacific Division, trailing only the UBC Thunderbirds. Evans and UVic will look to close the gap Jan. 25–26 as they head to Kamloops for a doubleheader against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.

The Vikes’ goal is to make it to the Canada West playoffs and eventually the CIS championships. Evans stresses the importance of not only reaching the playoffs, but also securing home court advantage. “Our goal is to get home court advantage for the first round of the Canada West [playoffs]; that’s a big deal, big advantage being at home with the home crowd.” The goal then shifts to reaching the CIS championships in Ottawa, but for now Evans says the Vikes must take it step by step.

As for next season, Evans says he will be playing his fifth and final year at UVic. “I want to use this year as a momentum step . . . and take a bigger step in my fifth year and do even more damage than I’m doing now.”

Though his college eligibility is coming to an end, Evans has no plans to stop playing basketball, and indeed is looking to go professional. “After I’m done with UVic, I do want to play overseas somewhere. Any country who’s willing to utilize my talent to the best of my abilities and their abilities, too — on their team.”

When Evans does eventually leave UVic, he will go with plenty of fond memories of the Vikes basketball program. He says the “history of the Vikes, what it stands for, the pride” are what he appreciates the most and what helped him decide on UVic in the first place.

Evans also takes great pride in playing for the same team as some of the all-time Vikes basketball greats, including Ken Shields, Spencer McKay, Eli Pasquale and Robbie Parris. “Those guys put a lot of work in . . . this great city and this whole basketball tradition at UVic.”

Evans says he is extremely happy for the time he has spent in Victoria. “I love this whole Canadian, Victoria, Vancouver Island thing. It’s the best thing ever to me.” He has also developed a great love for UVic and its people, one of the aspects of Victoria he will miss the most. “From the students to the teachers, staff . . . all the advisers — everyone is just, like, together. I love the connection that we have between everyone. They know us, we know them. We just come out, and that’s what we stand for at UVic.”