Evans growing on and off the court

Charles Reid
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Nick Evans is in his third season with the Island Storm basketball franchise.

Nick Evans has a daily reminder posted in his car – Control what you can control.

The Island Storm centre said it is a cliche and it probably is, but so far it’s worked.

Almost a year removed from being an unemployed pro basketball player just a few courses short of a university degree, nearly 30 points overweight and nursing a fractured right foot, the 26-year-old Evans is averaging more than 12 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes per game in what’s his best start in his third National Basketball League of Canada season.

So is this a redemption story? Not really. It’s more like a maturation story.

In short, the six-foot-10 Carbondale, Ill., native, knocked the chip off his shoulder and is learning how to be a pro.

“It took a while for me to mature. Coming out of college I wanted to be one of the toughest, roughest guys out there.

“I didn’t now how to be a pro,” Evans said after Storm practice on Thursday. “Now I want to make a few friends, not enemies, so at the foul line instead of talking smack I ask guys what college are you from?”

Evans gets another chance to make new acquaintances tonight when the Storm, which leads the Atlantic Division at 5-4, hosts the Brampton A’s, last in the Central Division at 3-5. Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.

Early last season, the Storm released Evans for violating a team rule. He signed with the Windsor Express, played 10 games before fracturing his foot.

He returned to the Storm in February, but he re-injured the foot and was done for the season.

It led to Evans looking at his life and where it was headed. He admitted all he was qualified to do was play basketball or flip hamburgers.

So the fun began.

He dropped his weight to 248 pounds from 270, worked on his game relentlessly in the off-season, obtained his speech communications degree (finishing on the honour role) and began controlling his actions on and off the court.

His head coach Joe Salerno said Evans did the off-season work needed to compete in the NBL and it’s paying off.

“He spent an awful lot of the off-season working on his body, getting it into physical shape to be able to do the things he couldn’t last year,” said Salerno. “He’s playing pretty well. It’s a good start.”

And Evans is quick to credit his new wife Natasha (a Miscouche native) and his new status as a Christian and a member of the Central Christian Church in Charlottetown as guides to keep him on the rails. He’s also responsible to an accountability group at the church. He and Natasha are expecting their first child this summer.

“Seeing how I’m playing on the court (because of the support) has fuelled my determination to stay on the straight and narrow,” said Evans, who’s aware he’s not clear yet. “It’s a tell-tale season.”

The Storm plays host to the Moncton Miracles (1-7) on Sunday at 2 p.m.

A few things things you might not know about the Island Storm’s Nick Evans:

Age – 26 (born April 14, 1988, Carbondale, Ill.).

Shoe size – 18.

Pre-game meal – Chicken Alfredo.

Best shot – 15-foot jumper.

Worst shot – Fall-away hook.

Favourite road venue – Budweiser Gardens, home of the London Lightning.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Windsor Express, Central Christian Church London Lightning

Geographic location: Carbondale, Ill., Miscouche, Charlottetown Budweiser Gardens

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