At a surface-level glance, Maxwell Evans’ final year at Vanderbilt was something of a disappointment. HIs scoring average only went up from 8.3 to 8.5 ppg, and while he was more efficient on the offensive end, Vanderbilt needed him to make a bigger jump than that with Aaron Nesmith and Saben Lee departed.
Look a bit closer, and a different picture emerges. After scoring 16 points against Valparaiso in the season opener, Evans scored 16 points — total — over the team’s next nine games. Ten games into the season, Evans was averaging 3.2 ppg. I have no idea what was going on with Evans during this stretch — it wasn’t that the shots weren’t falling; he just wasn’t shooting, attempting 26 field goals in nine games, or just under three per game.
From that point on, though, Evans averaged 12 ppg, dropping 29 on South Carolina, 20 on MIssissippi State and LSU. In SEC play, he shot 41.8 percent from three and had a 113.5 offensive rating — good for 12th in the conference. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made for Vanderbilt’s season if Evans had played like that all year, but it sure as hell would have made a difference in how I remember him.
As it stands, Evans went from a backup guard who Bryce Drew never seemed to trust, to the third-best player on a couple of bad teams. I feel like Evans deserved better than this, because a four-year player at Vanderbilt should never leave without playing in the NCAA Tournament. (Since C.M. Newton made the Sweet 16 with the Will Perdue/Barry Goheen team in 1988, Vanderbilt has only had one stretch prior to this of more than four years without an NCAA Tournament, and that was the tail end of VBK/first few years of Stallings when Vanderbilt missed the tournament six consecutive years, and that stretch required the NCAA to royally screw Vanderbilt in 2000. But in case you were wondering, Darius Coulibaly was at Vanderbilt for five years of that stretch, because of course he was.)
Tangent done. Evans is off to TCU to exercise his free year of eligibility from the NCAA, and honestly if he wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament, that’s probably a better way to achieve that goal. Grading his 2020-21 season is tough, because the first ten games probably deserve an F... but the last 15 are in B+/A- territory.