By Tom Ballato
Sean Evans played at St. John’s University from 2007-2011. During his time at St. John’s the team faced a lot of ups and downs, but he finished his career on a high note making the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Evans was a physical presence at St. John’s. He could guard multiple positions, back an opponent down or face them up on offense, and was a physical rebounder. Evans was described as “fearless” and “a player that did the dirty work”, according to St. John’s fans. What gave Sean an edge was that he could out hustle anyone on the court.
Recruited by head coach Norm Roberts, Evans became a two year starter. When Roberts was let go after his junior season, St. John’s hired Steve Lavin and things changed. His senior year, Evans saw a decrease in his role on the team and in playing time. This prompted Evans to consider a change as well and transfer. Sean’s teammates helped persuade him to stay and be part of something special.
Staying at St. John’s turned out to be the right decision for Evans. Although he did not start games, Evans played pivotal minutes down the stretch for St. John’s in 2011. His best game came in a win against the third ranked Duke Blue Devils on January 30, 2011. In eleven minutes, Sean scored 10 points making all five of his shots. St. John’s went on to beat a few more ranked teams before seasons end.
St. John’s faced adversity during the Big East Tournament when star guard D.J. Kennedy suffered a torn ACL. St. John’s received a bid to the NCAA tournament and was scheduled to face Gonzaga. Evans who formed a close relationship with Kennedy created rally shirts that read, “Do it for DJ.” St. John’s ultimately ended up losing to Gonzaga, but the trip to the tournament was the reward for a group of seniors that had put in four years of work for their “one shining moment.”
Sean graduated from St. John’s and signed a deal to play in Germany’s Pro A League. He has gone on to play in a few countries professionally. Recently he was named MVP in Greece where he is playing with Ifaistos Limnou.
What is your best memory from your time at St. John’s?
Best memory would have to be making the NCAA tournament.
What teammates do you still stay in touch with?
I pretty much keep in touch with all of them. I check up on them all, but the only one I talk to on a daily basis is D.J.. That’s my brother, we speak all the time.
You played at St. John’s when the Big East was one of the best conferences in college basketball. What prepared your team to go out there and upset the teams you did? (Villanova, Duke, Connecticut, etc..)
When we played, I would consider that to be the best conference in college basketball, hands down. Experience prepared us. We had been playing together and growing together for a year so we knew what it took to win and how to win.
Your senior year, you considered transferring. What kept you from leaving?
My teammates, they wanted me there. I was a big part of that team. We knew we had a chance to do something special and they helped me see that and stood by me as I figured out and ultimately made the choice to stay.
Losing D.J. Kennedy for the NCAA tournament was tough and you were one of the guys that made a shirt supporting D.J.. How emotional was it to lose him for the tournament and what were the feelings like for a group of seniors that finally made the tournament?
Yeah, I had came up with the idea and made the t-shirts #doitforDJ because number one that’s my brother and me and his bond was bigger than basketball. We were the closest on the team and I wanted him to know we had his back. We did not forget all the hard work he put in besides us as well. As a group, us making the tournament meant a lot. We were considered “the redeem team” and we brought St. John’s back to the tournament and made them a relevant program again.
What parts of your game have you improved on that we didn’t see at St. John’s?
I improved on all parts of my game. I live in the gym. Basketball is a game that no matter how good good you are, you can always improve.
Where have you played overseas so far?
I have played in Germany, Israel, Turkey, and Greece.
Describe your relationship with the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff) and playing for Team FOE (Family Over Everything) each summer in the TBT Tournament.
They are my brothers. We grew up together from children to men. We have an unbreakable bond. Playing with Team FOE in the TBT is a fun way to get everyone back together to play basketball and not to mention a chance to win some money. Not sure if we will play again, never say never, stay tuned!