Iowa basketball could use some good news. Since the OT NCAA Tournament loss to Tennessee more than two months ago, it’s been nothing but bad news for the Hawkeyes.
One silver lining to the departures of Maishe Dailey and Isaiah Moss, combined with the news that Jordan Bohannon has undergone offseason hip surgery and may miss the entire upcoming season is Iowa is an attractive landing spot for a graduate transfer looking for immediate playing time.
That’s the first time the Hawkeyes have been able to say that in Fran McCaffery’s tenure. Accordingly, McCaffery has been as active as ever in the transfer market this offseason. To date, none of that activity has resulted in a new member of the team. Today, that all changed as former Valparaiso guard Bakari Evelyn announced his intentions to enroll at Iowa as a graduate transfer eligible immediately.
Evelyn made the decision shortly after returning home from his official visit to Iowa City this weekend. That came a week after visiting New Mexico State.
Originally from Michigan, Evelyn first committed to Nebraska back in the class of 2015. Here’s what our brethren over at CornNation had to say about him at the time:
“Evelyn transferred to the Phoenix area last summer after leading Southfield Christian to three straight Michigan Class D basketball titles in his freshman through junior seasons. Evelyn was twice named to the All-Michigan team in class D, which is the smallest class in Michigan high school basketball. He originally transferred to Gilbert Christian, but couldn’t get the transfer cleared in the wake of questions surrounding the school’s basketball program by the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The concern appeared to be focused on another player’s relationship with the school’s coaching staff prior to that player transferring to Gilbert Christian. He then transferred to Hillcrest Academy, where he averaged 24.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in nine games... Evelyn was considering offers from UTEP, Oakland, Loyola-Chicago and Toledo.”
However, after a freshman season where he played sparingly, Evelyn transferred to Valparaiso where he took a redshirt during his required sit year.
When he came back as a redshirt sophomore, he began making an immediate impact, starting all 32 games and finishing the season averaging 12.6 points a game and making the MVC All-Newcomer Team. He also led the team in assists and shot more than 42% from beyond the arc.
Those impressive numbers took a dip in Evelyn’s junior season after he underwent a trio of ankle surgeries. He came back to average 8.4 points per game to go with 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists. His shooting also took a bit of a dip, dropping to 42% from the field and 34% from three.
In talking with HawkCentral, Evelyn indicated this isn’t his first go around with Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes:
“I know him pretty well. Iowa has recruited me two times previously,” Evelyn said. “Dillard recruited me heavily while I was in high school in Michigan, in Detroit. He came up there a lot to see me. And then when I was coming out of high school deciding which college to go to, they wanted me to go to Iowa and redshirt — that’s when they had a really good team... They said we’ve wanted you previously two times, so we already know the type of player you are,” Evelyn said. “So the evaluation process got sped up a lot, I think... And then seeing Moss leave and then Bohannon having to have surgery and things like that, he felt like now there’s a big opportunity for me to play and be able to contribute to the team,” Evelyn said. ”Fran has always been kind of straightforward with me.”
Evelyn is a bit of a combo guard. Listed a 6’2” and 180 pounds, he has a really good ability to get into the lane and finish at the rim when healthy. That’s something Iowa has lacked in the past and was counting on Moss to contribute this year, along with incoming point guard Joe Toussaint.
We could also see Evelyn on the floor at the two alongside either Toussaint or fellow point guard Connor McCaffery. He has a pretty decent stroke and if that ankle is fully healed, Hawkeye fans should expect a shooting percentage somewhere between his sophomore and junior seasons. That will fit in nicely with Iowa’s offense with guys like C.J. Frederick and Joe Wieskamp able to knock down shots on the outside.
It’s a different skill set than what the Hawkeyes lost with Bohannon’s injury, but Evelyn and Toussaint bring more penetrating ability than Iowa’s had in some time and should soften the blow of losing Isaiah Moss.
Welcome aboard Valpo grad transfer Bakari Evelyn!