WASHINGTON -- What does a shooting guard do when his shot isn't falling?
Kwame Evans is often called the best two guard in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but he's made 36.7 percent of his attempts in his last seven games, 16.7 from three-point range. Near the end of his career at George Washington, Evans isn't exactly knocking down the 20-footer, but he's leaving the Colonials with more than the sweet jumper he brought from Southern High.
For the last two years, Evans has been implored to lead, and finally, there he was after GW spoiled Massachusetts' perfect season, calling a meeting and telling his teammates to keep their LTC heads straight. Saturday, St. Joseph's beat GW by taking Evans out of the offense, but he still matched his career high with five steals. In the game before that, Evans didn't stick a single jump shot, yet managed 21 points in a win over against Rhode Island.
"I guess that says my game has improved so much, I can get it done other ways," Evans said. "I guess if my jumper's not falling, I can go inside, get some offensive rebounds, play some defense. That feels good. Getting 20 without a jump shot is not something I could always do."
Mike Jarvis, the GW coach, appreciated that event as another milestone in Evans' maturation.
"There was a time, if you told me Kwame would score 20 and not hit a single jump shot, I would have said you're crazy," Jarvis said. "His personality has evolved along with his game. It took awhile for Kwame to take charge here."
Evans and Jarvis discuss leadership only on days that end in "y." The topic of leadership was never more pertinent than in early December, after Evans went 0-for-10 in a 17-point loss to Maryland.
"My confidence was down, but there were other things going on," than just that game," Evans said. "I still didn't know how to lead a team," Evans said. "Coach Jarvis and I sat down. He voiced his opinion. I voiced mine. How should I lead? Should I lead verbally? I was used to leading by example, and I had to force myself to talk more."
It was Evans' jump shot, and not his motivational skills, that helped Jarvis rejuvenate the Colonials. Before his arrival, GW twice had gone to the NCAAs, 's history included two NCAA tournaments, but a win over St. Joe's in the A-10 quarterfinals Thursday likely would cement the Colonials' third at-large berth in Evans' four seasons. For the first time in 41 years, GW has 20 regular-season wins.
The Colonials are an exotic blend. The backcourt of Evans, 6 feet 7, and freshman point guard Shawnta Rogers, 5-3, comes from Baltimore, but the big men are from Belarus. The chemistry wasn't as productive last year, when the Colonials went to the National Invitation Tournament. instead of the NCAA. Evans was the A-10's leading scorer with a 19.4 average, but wasn't always comfortable on a team with four seniors.
"In the past, a lot of guys didn't want you to shoot as much," Evans said. "Just to keep the team intact, I kind of passed on a couple of shots I shouldn't have, but that's the kind of person I am. I want everyone to be happy."
Washington Bullets college scout Paul Baker said that his problem "is that he doesn't know how good he is," but Evans considered applying early for the NBA draft. Instead of leaving school, however, last summer he settled on a tattoo on his left shoulder. Above it is "NBA," below it the words "My Life." "Because of how badly the team was doing and how well I was doing, some people told me I should leave," Evans said. "I did the right thing. I talked to some people, considered it for a minute and made the right judgment."
Evans said his game got a boost when Rogers, The Sun Player of the Year for Lake Clifton last season, entered GW at the end of the first semester and drew some defensive attention. Rogers is making 38.1 percent of his field-goal attempts, and when he tells Evans to keep shooting, it's the affirmation he needs to keep putting it up.
"Coach Jarvis has always told me to shoot more," Evans said. "This year, I'm the senior, and I figured he can't tell me anything. Shawnta has told me to keep shooting. Me and Shawnta played a lot together back in Baltimore. He's helped my confidence, and he's also getting me open."
Evans' 18.6 average is down from last season's, but is still second in the A-10 his 18.6 points per game are second in the A-10 to Marcus Camby. His career point total is 1,664, No. 4 all-time at GW, but improvements in other areas of his game his other advances are just as satisfying. He's got a career-high 33 steals, and is quicker to get inside.
"There are some outstanding two guards in this league, but I don't know if anyone else has as complete a package," as Kwame does," Xavier coach Skip Prosser said.
Pub Date: 3/05/96