Iowa basketball’s Evelyn fitting in with new teammates

Bakari Evelyn has only been at Iowa for three weeks, but he said he already feels welcomed.

Bakari+Evelyn+speaks+with+members+of+the+press+during+an+Iowa+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+media+availability+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+July+24%2C+2019.+%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Iowa basketball’s Evelyn fitting in with new teammates

Bakari Evelyn speaks with members of the press during an Iowa men’s basketball media availability at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on July 24, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Bakari Evelyn speaks with members of the press during an Iowa men’s basketball media availability at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on July 24, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Bakari Evelyn speaks with members of the press during an Iowa men’s basketball media availability at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on July 24, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Bakari Evelyn speaks with members of the press during an Iowa men’s basketball media availability at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on July 24, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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Bakari Evelyn officially signed with Iowa three weeks ago, and he’s already fitting in with his new teammates. But then, he’s accustomed to meeting new people.

Evelyn played high-school ball at Hillcrest Academy in Arizona after spending his first three seasons at Southfield Christian in Michigan. Then, he started his college career at Nebraska before transferring to Valparaiso.

Now at his final college landing spot with the Hawkeyes, that experience on the road has helped with the transition.

“I’ve definitely been on the move a little bit, but it’s definitely been a fun one,” Evelyn said. “I’ve learned through all of my experiences. I think that’s what’s helped me here. I’ve been through the wringer; I’ve been around a little bit. I’m seasoned in a way. It has kind of prepared me for this.”

Despite being a newcomer, Evelyn said he has already formed connections on and off the court.

Whether it’s watching movies, playing video games, working out at practice, or just relaxing, Evelyn has fit in quickly.

“Probably, I think there’s some [fitting in to do] for me just being I’m new,” Evelyn said. “But as far as the team, not really. They’ve all been really welcoming. From Jack [Nunge] to Pat [McCaffery] to everybody’s been pretty welcoming, helping me get adjusted to everything. I’m definitely part of the team.”

Iowa will need Evelyn to be a part of the team, too, and he could play a key role. After Isaiah Moss and Maishe Dailey transferred, leaving holes in the backcourt, and now guard Jordan Bohannon’s status for next season is uncertain, the Hawkeyes needed someone who could contribute right away.

Evelyn could be that player.

The former Crusader put up 8.4 points per game last season with 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists, but he wasn’t 100 percent healthy after undergoing surgery.

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In 2017-18, Evelyn averaged 12.6 points per game on 44 percent shooting to go along with 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He also shot 38 percent from behind the arc, an attribute that could be important in Moss’ absence.

He has also worked at both guard positions.

Questions quickly rose about Iowa’s point-guard depth when the team announced that Bohannon would undergo hip surgery. The only Hawkeye with point-guard experience in college was Connor McCaffery, who served as Bohannon’s backup last season.

Iowa’s roster features players who can play shooting guard, including Joe Wieskamp and C.J. Fredrick, making point guard the main concern.

With incoming freshman Joe Toussaint entering the picture, things became a little clearer. Now, with Evelyn gaining some experience on and off the ball, the Hawkeyes can breathe a sigh of relief.

“You have Connor and Joe Toussaint — those two guys will handle it,” head coach Fran McCaffery said two days after Evelyn committed before publicly commenting on the addition. “Should we get somebody else, that person might be able to fill in as well. Versatility is what we’re looking for there.”

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