VCU’s Evans try­ing to think like a pro

Guard is fo­cused on ‘tak­ing care’ of his body ev­ery day

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS - BY WAYNE EPPS JR.

Com­ing off a sec­ond Achilles tear in less than a year, a mes­sage Mar­cus Evans has heard from VCU coach Mike Rhoades, and from train­ing staff, is that he has to think like a pro­fes­sional now.

It’s about main­te­nance for the ju­nior guard, no mat­ter how well he’s feel­ing.

“Be­fore I wasn’t too keen on tak­ing care of my body as much,” Evans said. “Now it’s ev­ery day af­ter prac­tice, ev­ery day, even if I have an off day, just get­ting in the train­ing room, tak­ing care of my body.”

Evans made his VCU de­but against Gard­ner-Webb on Tues­day night, avoid­ing any missed games. He suf­fered a tear to his right Achilles at the be­gin­ning of June, af­ter tear­ing his left one in July 2017. He re­cov­ered from

the first tear while sit­ting out last sea­son due to NCAA rules, fol­low­ing his trans­fer from Rice.

Af­ter Tues­day’s game, Evans said it was an un­real feel­ing to get to play. Just with sit­ting out the trans­fer year, Evans hadn’t played in a col­lege game for 596 days.

Then, on top of that, the road was com­pli­cated by the in­juries. This past June, Evans said he went up for a layup in a pickup game, came down and knew right away what hap­pened.

But he was able to walk off the court af­ter­ward. The in­jury this time was not as bad as the pre­vi­ous one — a par­tial tear — com­pared to the full tear he suf­fered in 2017.

He had surgery three days af­ter­ward, which in­cluded a stem cell treat­ment to help speed up the re­cov­ery process.

About four months later, Evans was able to start do­ing some work­outs in which he said he was mov­ing pretty well. He re­turned to live ac­tion in prac­tice about two weeks ago.

In his re­turn, Evans said his con­di­tion­ing isn’t some­thing he’s wor­ried about — “It comes back like that,” he said. It was more about hav­ing con­fi­dence.

“Af­ter hav­ing two Achilles tears, it’s ob­vi­ously back on your mind a lit­tle bit,” Evans said. “Run­ning, jump­ing, if it could hap­pen again. So the big­gest thing for me was just trust­ing it again, get­ting back to my­self, the same move­ments I had be­fore.”

Off the court, Evans’ reg­i­men in­cludes a lot of stretch­ing. He said flex­i­bil­ity was one of his prob­lems, which may have led to the in­juries.

On Fri­day night, VCU will host Hamp­ton in a Leg­ends Clas­sic Rich­mond Re­gional game. It’s a team that ju­nior for­ward Is­sac Vann said is re­ally ag­gres­sive, through­out its lineup.

“They all can shoot 3s,” he said. “So that’s one thing we’ve been work­ing on, run them off the 3-point line, ro­tat­ing.”

A Ch­e­sa­peake na­tive, Evans is fa­mil­iar with a few of the guys on the Pi­rates’ ros­ter. He said he’s known ju­nior guard Jer­maine Mar­row for a while. Mar­row had a game-high 22 points in Hamp­ton’s 110-58 win over Mid-At­lantic Chris­tian to open the sea­son Tues­day. He was also a Big South pre­sea­son all-con­fer­ence first team se­lec­tion.

“It’s just some­thing in the [757] wa­ter . ... He’s tough, he’s ag­gres­sive and

he’s not go­ing to back down from no­body, we know that,” Evans said of Mar­row.

Per­son­ally, Evans is still on lim­ited min­utes as he works his way in — he played 9:18 on Tues­day.

But, whether it’s about the min­utes or the main­te­nance, the fo­cus is the long run.

“I have all the trust in the world with our coach­ing staff,” Evans said. “They’ve done a great job of keep­ing me fo­cused and keep­ing me mov­ing along the right track.”


Mar­cus Evans made his VCU de­but in Tues­day night’s 69-57 win against Gard­ner-Webb. Evans, a trans­fer from Rice, sat out all of last sea­son due to NCAA rules.

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