Bakari Evelyn familiar with Iowa basketball program

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Photo courtesy of Bakari Evelyn.

By Tyler Devine

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The point guard position has been a hot topic with regard to the Iowa basketball team.

Despite the exciting play of soon-to-be senior Jordan Bohannon, Iowa fans want more depth at the position, and they may soon get their wish.

Valparaiso graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn has a high interest in the Hawkeyes, so much so that he’s deciding between Iowa and New Mexico State.

“I’ve kind of narrowed it down already, to be honest,” Evelyn said. “I had a good visit at New Mexico State this weekend and Iowa is the only visit I have set up that I’m really considering. I’ve got it kind of narrowed down to New Mexico State and Iowa.”

One thing going in Iowa’s favor is that assistant coach Sherman Dillard has been keeping tabs on Evelyn since high school.

However, the timing just wasn’t right for Evelyn to go to Iowa then.

“I’ve been recruited by Iowa two times prior to this one,” Evelyn said. “Out of high school coach Dillard recruited me a lot from AAU my sophomore and junior year when I was in Michigan. And then my senior year when I was deciding on colleges they were recruiting me as well and wanted me to redshirt. But that was the year they had Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell.

“They had a really good team of veteran seniors, so they wanted me to redshirt then. I’ve been familiar with them, so this time when coach Dillard called and talked to me, I think the recruiting process was sped up a lot faster. He offered me the first time I talked to him. I already know he and coach McCaffery know my game, so I think we started ahead of where other schools were with me and what they had been with other players in the past.”

Evelyn, a native of Detroit, Mich., is no stranger to the Big Ten.

Evelyn played his freshman season at Nebraska before transferring to Valparaiso and is grateful to have the opportunity to return to the conference he grew up watching.

“It’s definitely a blessing that I even have the opportunity,” Evelyn said. “My mom went to Ohio State, I’m from Michigan. Of course I grew up on the Big Ten, so to actually be a Big Ten player and compete for a championship and to compete to get to the tournament is definitely something that means a lot to me and my family.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Evelyn has watched the Iowa basketball team in recent years and feels that the time may be right for him to insert himself into the rotation.

“I’ve watched Iowa the last two years as a fan because I’m a pretty big basketball junkie,” Evelyn said. “I know some of the guys on the team. (I like) how they play and I think I would be able to fit well with them. I think my game kind of compliments theirs too.”

During the 2018-19 season at Valparaiso, Evelyn averaged 8.4 points per game while shooting just under 34 percent from the field.