Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Come-From - Behind Victory

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Come-From - Behind Victory

Article excerpt

Despite being cut in high school, Ryan Evans rebounded to become an invaluable player.

When it comes to defying all the odds, belief is a powerful weapon. Just ask Ryan Evans. As a youngster, Evans envisioned himself playing big-time college basketball in the biggest arenas around the country. In so many instances, he was told that he would never make it. As things turned out, it's a good thing that Evans never listened to the cynics.

In this, his final season at the University of Wisconsin, Evans has come full circle as arguably the most improved player in the Big Ten Conference. Evans, a 6-foot-6-inch forward, keyed a late-season run that helped the Badgers earn an NCAA bid. He played a major role in Wisconsin's back-to-back upset wins over sixth-ranked Michigan and third-ranked Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.

"If you have a dream and you truly believe in it, don't let anybody tell you differently," says Evans, a fifth-year senior who has already earned a bachelor's degree in life sciences communications. "When you put in the time and the effort, it can happen just like it did for me, just like it has for other people I know. Hard work really does pay off."

Initially, basketball was anything but a slam dunk for Evans, whose home is Phoenix. As a 10th grader, he was cut during varsity tryouts at one school. So he transferred, elevated his game and emerged as an All-State pick by his senior season.

Wisconsin didn't scout Evans until right before the end of the high school playoffs of his senior year. When he signed with the Badgers, it was very late in the recruiting cycle. Wisconsin liked his skill set, but he was not considered to be a can't-miss prospect. As a freshman, he earned playing time as a tough-as-nails defender. Eventually, he worked his way into the starting lineup. Evans plays above the rim and has added a reliable mid-range jumper to his repertoire. This season, he averaged 10.8 points, a team-high 7.7 rebounds a game and was second in minutes played per game at 30.1.

"Ryan's contributions cannot be overlooked," says Lamont Paris, an assistant coach at Wisconsin. "He's been instrumental to a lot of our success. Without him, we wouldn't be where we are."

Basketball is an integral part of his life, but it doesn't totally define who Ryan Evans is. There's also Ryan Evans the student, who has a 4.0 grade point average in the educational leadership and policy analysis graduate program at Wisconsin. …

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