Evans impressed by visit; Brunson to decide Wednesday

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Evans impressed by visit; Brunson to decide Wednesday

For the second consecutive weekend, the Illinois campus was swept up in the frenzy that is high-stakes recruiting.

It was Jawun Evans’ turn to take an official visit to Illinois, where he got to experience first-hand the enthusiasm of an Illini fan base that is eager for a commitment. 

Fans wished him well on the street and at the football game against Western Kentucky. They flooded his mentions on Twitter and his inbox on Snapchat. 

Evans was also wowed by the presentations from the Illinois coaching staff during the visit.

The 2015 point guard out of Dallas enjoys the attention and appreciates the love the Illini fans showered him with throughout the weekend. I spoke with his AAU coach and mentor, Lamont Simmons, who had a chance to talk to Evans about his visit.

“He definitely enjoyed it, I can tell you that now,” Simmons said. “He loved the fans, the atmosphere. The campus was very impressive.

“But even more (impressive was) the coaching staff’s presentations they put in front of him, things they planned on doing if they got him. 

Their plan of building him, building his body and building his fundamentals and skills and getting him to the next level was very impressive.”

Illinois head coach John Groce and his staff had already built a strong relationship with Evans prior to the weekend’s visit, and it was Groce’s integrity that piqued Evans’ interest in Illinois, according to Simmons. After gaining the trust of Evans, the staff didn’t disappoint when it came time to visit Illinois for the first time.

“They did a great and phenomenal job with the visit,” Simmons said.

While fan hype and speculation is inevitable during a high-profile visit, there were some unexpected circumstances that Evans had to deal with before the visit even officially began. 

Due to severe weather Friday night, Evans’ flight, which was scheduled to land at Willard Airport, was diverted to Indianapolis. 

Despite numerous offers from die-hard Illini fans to give him a lift to Champaign, Illinois assistant coaches drove to Indy late Friday night to pick him up. He arrived on campus just after midnight.  

On Saturday morning, Evans attended the home football game, matching Groce in an Illini hoodie. 

He was introduced to Illini coaching legend Lou Henson in the press box and visited the student section, which has become customary for Illinois recruits on visits. 

Groce then hosted a team dinner at his home Saturday evening, where Evans got the chance to mingle with current Illini players.

On Saturday night, online Illinois fan forums lit up amid rumors from anonymous posters that Evans had given a “silent verbal” commitment to the Illini coaching staff. 

However, a source close to the situation stressed that Evans had not given any type of silent commitment to the staff.

After a Sunday morning breakfast with Groce at the Original Pancake House in Champaign, Evans left campus without any announcement of a commitment.

Following two weekends devoid of any concrete developments, things are poised to become more clear Wednesday. 

Rivals.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi confirmed that Groce’s other top target, 2015 point guard Jalen Brunson, is set to announce his college decision Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Brunson is choosing between Illinois and Villanova.

Since Brunson and Evans play the same position, Simmons said he feels that there is no room for both point guards to be added to Groce’s 2015 class.

“Being honest, if they get another point guard, I don’t see the place for two specialty point guards coming in,” Simmons said.

When asked if Evans shared that sentiment, Simmons answered yes.

Evans will visit Oklahoma State next on Sept. 24, and is still not sure if he will take his last official visit to Texas. 

But he will definitely wait until after the visit to Oklahoma State before making a decision, according to Simmons.

Groce and Villanova head coach Jay Wright are both scheduled to have an in-home visit with Brunson on Tuesday.

So we know that a Brunson decision is imminent, and we know that it could have implications on Evans’ final decision. 

At this point, we don’t have a clear picture on where either is heading.

But we do know that Wednesday will set things in motion.

Alex is a junior in AHS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @aroux94.