Graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn announced his commitment to the Iowa basketball program yesterday, and this is big for the Hawk’s tournament hopes.
There hasn’t been a lot going the Iowa basketball team’s way since the 2019 NCAA Tournament with multiple transfers, NBA draft declarations, and the surprising announcement of Jordan Bohannon’s injury.
Expected to land a graduate transfer or two with the newly opened up scholarship spots, the Hawks struck out on a few guys.
They finally landed one though when Valparaiso graduate transfer guard Bakari Evelyn announced his commitment to the Iowa basketball program yesterday.
In Evelyn, the Hawks finally gain some depth in a backcourt that has been absolutely depleted the last two months. Evelyn’s presence will provide Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery some flexibility and possibly some patience when it comes to bringing along freshman point guard Joe Toussaint, and he very well could take Bohannon’s starting point guard spot if the senior 3-point sniper is unable to give it a go this season.
Evelyn has spent the past two seasons playing for Valparaiso in the Missouri Valley Conference after transferring from Nebraska.
Last season, Evelyn averaged 28.1 minutes per game while scoring 8.4 points per game and dishing out 2.1 assists. These numbers were a slight dip from his sophomore season where he unloaded on MVC competition for 12.6 points a game while taking 1.4 steals a game from the other team.
In his three-year college career, Evelyn’s three-point shooting has been up and down, but expect that to rise as he will be surrounded by a plethora of shooters on the Hawks. The only concern I have is advanced analytics aren’t overly supportive of his defensive prowess.
In three seasons, Evelyn has never posted a positive defensive plus/minus.
That being said, his addition to the Iowa basketball is huge. The Hawks have arguably one of the best frontcourts in the Big Ten, but with limited depth in the backcourt, one injury or slump could derail the squad. As I said above, Evelyn gives Fran some flexibility as he can play both the 1 and the 2 effectively, and it doesn’t put as much pressure on the younger CJ Fredrick or Toussaint to need to contribute as big of minutes right away.
Does this move make the Iowa basketball team a sleeper for a deep run in the tournament? No, but it does give them a much better chance over the course of the season to put together a resume worthy of inclusion in the 2020 NCAA Tournament.