How Jacob Evans Is Cut From the Same Cloth as Steph Curry and Draymond Green

OAKLAND -- They saw the firm physique and imposing length, the solid stats and the intellect at both ends. And while those were fine and persuasive reasons for the Warriors to draft Jacob Evans III, what may be more compelling was what they could not see.

It lurks well beneath those more measureable and quantifiable factors, yet it can be far more valuable to Evans and his new employer.

The background of the 6-foot-6, 210-pound wing indicates he has a deep desire to prove he belongs on the court with the best basketball has to offer.

As assistant general manager and player personnel director of the Warriors, Larry Harris saw Evans play numerous times over the past two years and noted his development during three seasons at Cincinnati. Harris also senses its source.

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: The best quote from Jacob Evans' press conference]

"It starts with character. Jacob has that," Harris says. "Whatever his ceiling is, he's going to get there. He knows what it's going to take and he's a worker and I think he's going to achieve it, whatever it is.

"Sometimes you can tell by the way they play, with an edge, as long as it's not over the top. But you can tell if there's edge, there's a spirit, there's a fight and a toughness. And you can see that with Jacob."

In which case he is cut from the same cloth as new teammates Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, two Warriors whose climb to the top of the NBA left shoe prints on the heads of countless skeptics that wondered if either had a position, much less a ghost of a chance to be great.

Because Curry and Green came to the Warriors after years of hearing in so many ways, so many times, they were less than elite and maybe unworthy of the NBA, they woke up each morning determined to prove otherwise. Did then. Still do.

With previous slights at his back, it's now Evans' turn how far he can take himself.

"I just took it personally," Evans says. "You see a couple guys as being ranked ahead of you. I was kind of not paying attention to it as I moved on, just knowing my hard work and my dedication would push me. I know what I put into the game, so someone that's sitting behind a computer screen saying that I'm ‘this-ranked player in the country or I'm this good.'

"It doesn't matter in the end, because when you roll the ball, none of that matters."

Evans entered high school as a skinny, 6-foot freshman point guard. He didn't get a lot of recruiting play and it wasn't until the summer after his junior year at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, La., after a strong AAU showing, that scouts sought a closer look at the kid who had grown to 6-5 but was not an exceptional athlete.

Those schools, including "locals" LSU and Tulane, were too late. Cincinnati spotted Evans first and stayed with him. He rewarded that loyalty by signing with the Bearcats early in his senior year.

The scholarship was more than his mother ever expected. She admits now that when she enrolled Jacob at St. Michael, she doubted he would play beyond high school. She enrolled him there for academic reasons.

"When he went to Cincinnati, he wasn't projected to be a starter," Chatman-Evans says. "He went there thinking if he worked his butt off he might earn a spot. He's always been an underdog."

Evans started eight games as a freshman, and then all 72 games as a sophomore and junior. He left as the leader of a team that went 31-5, losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats were 83-22 in his three seasons.

"I wasn't really ranked high, so I just tried to be a good as I could be," Evans says. "So I got to college and when I was a sophomore is kind of when I saw I had a chance to be in the NBA."

Evans had thrown himself into workouts and pushed coach Mick Cronin and his staff before coming away with a tighter and more muscular physique. He also was a better basketball player.

To hear Evans tell it, the labor came natural. His mother works hard and smart to support her three boys: Devin, Demarquis and baby boy Jacob. Not long after Jacob was born, Chatman-Evans went to work at KinderCare Learning Center, where in less than two years she advanced from teacher to assistant director to director.

"As a single parent with three kids, it was tough," Jacob recalls. "But she never told me I had to work hard for what I want. I saw it. She showed it every day, going to work, coming home late, having to miss some of my basketball games and practices."

Evans, 21, did not memorize the (27) players taken before him, as Green did in the 2012 draft, nor is he arriving as the shiny but flawed, undersized player Curry was perceived to be. But the new kid hopes to follow their path.

"You see Steph and Draymond, all those people said things about them," he says. "But when the ball is rolled out, none of that mattered. Steph is considered one of the greatest shooters ever, and Draymond is one of the greatest defenders, a glue guy that keep the team together. It's just that mindset. You've got to have that mindset going on the court, knowing that what people on the outside say doesn't really matter. As long as you put in your work and do your time in the gym, it will pay off."

Evans attacks basketball as if he still hears the voices of doubt and is trying to mute them all. Green would know what that looks like and feels like, and maybe he saw it when observing Evans' workout last week. Maybe that glimpse of a young man's single-minded drive to perform beyond preconceived limitations led to Green's stamp of approval.

"All the great players, they just need something to motivate them, whether it's for a game, for a series, for a season or whatever, they just need a little bit," Harris says. "And the great ones find something every year to motivate them.

"Jacob will find that. He'll find that this year when he's on the floor and he's like, ‘Wow, that guy was rated ahead of me? I'm better than him.' "

The Warriors have seen that process unfold before, and still see it on a regular basis. They're hoping to see it again.

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