One of the biggest updates of this offseason was less about a coaching change, but more about what came with it. Marcus Evans played 2 years under then Head Coach Mike Rhoades at Rice University, averaging 21.4 ppg his freshman year, and 19 ppg and a career high 3.7 assists his sophomore year (also leading the Owls to 23 wins).
Less than a month ago, Marcus announced he would be following Mike Rhoades to VCU. A Chesapeake native, he wanted to be close to home. But more than that, a special bond exists between he and Coach Rhoades, one that he looks forward to enjoying while bringing his success and talent to VCU.
We got a moment to ask some questions, and get to know Marcus more as he prepares his transition to VCU.
You had a lot of interest, from some big programs. What was it about VCU that led to your decision to become a Ram?
Ultimately, it was not necessarily about just being a high major program. I understood that i only needed the chance to have more exposure, play in a better conference, and make it to the NCAA tournament and VCU as well as the other high major schools gave me that option. Also the ability to play for a school where the transition would be very easy due to the staff and location played a major role.
VCU, Arizona, and Miami were the finalists. Talk about those other choices, how they got in the mix.
Miami was one of my dreams schools coming out of high school as well. I was recruited by them for a little in high school but they never offered, so when i got the chance again i was very interested in seeing what they had to offer. Arizona was a last minute addition honestly. I was narrowing my schools down when i received the call. The coaches were very up front about what they were offering and offered me a chance to be a big part of the program which caused me to take a seriously look at Arizona.
What is your relationship like with Coach Rhoades? What are your favorite things about him?
Coach Rhoades is almost like a second father to me. Being away from home he was a man I could lean on and come to about a lot of things. One reason why we get along is because we are so much alike, we have the same drive to win and love playing a similar style of basketball. One thing I love about him is there no hidden agenda with him, he tells you straight like it is. If I’m playing great he will tell me but also if I’m slacking he will let it be known i need to pick it up with no hesitation.
Talk about your visit to VCU, what was your day like in Richmond?
My visit to VCU was a really great visit honestly. I was excited to see the entire staff again. I was so used to seeing them every single day that it became weird being away from them for so long. That is why when I stepped on campus it felt like home again because of the relationships i built with them. Also, the atmosphere of the VCU campus was something that was totally different than i was used to. There was this energy throughout that i just fell in love with.
What are you most excited about with coming to VCU?
I am most excited about continuing the tradition VCU has built. They have built a winning program that expects to compete in the NCAA tournament every year. That lines up perfectly with my expectations as well so I am very excited to play in the atmosphere and help not only continue the tradition but pass Joey Rodriguez and make it to a NCAA championship.
Favorite thing about Richmond and VCU?
My favorite thing about Richmond and VCU is the culture that it has created. VCU is such a diverse school and the Richmond area has so much future to it that there is something for almost everyone. It seems as though you can walk outside and learn something new about the area every day.
I believe your sister graduated from VCU. How much was your family involved in your decision? How bad did they want you to stay close to home?
My family was very involved in my decision. I am very close to my family and value their opinion very much. They left the decision up to me and kept their opinions out of the process as much as possible and tried to stick mostly with facts. My family did their best to take the pressure off of me by allowing me to make the decision for myself but I understood that they definitely would like me to be close to home but would respect and support any decision I made.
Were they able to make it to games last two seasons?
My family made it to quite a few games the last few seasons but obviously could not make all. They would travel to any away games that were close to home such as the ODU game and Charlotte game and even took a couple of trips down to Houston for the weekend to watch some games. I know my family would love to see every one of my games but being so far away from home, that was not possible.
Who in your family is your biggest fan?
I can’t narrow any one in my family to be my biggest fan because they all support me as much as they can. From my parents to my sisters even to my aunts. I receive texts from all of them after every game, win or lose, and constantly hear of them bragging on me back home. I am blessed to have such a great support system behind me, which is a huge reason for my success.
How much of a factor was the PG shortage after Johnny graduates?
The point guard shortage wasn’t too much of a factor. I have never been afraid of competition or earning a spot and at the time still believed Batts was still coming to VCU. I trusted in Coach Rhoades and knew he would not ask me to be a part of the ramily if he didn’t think I would be a big part in it. I believed that I could earn my spot just as I did my first 2 years at Rice.
How would you say you fit in with Rhoades’ system?
I believe I fit perfectly into Rhoades system because of how alike we are. We both love to play fast, get out in transition, and speed the other team up on defense. He tells me everyday he sees so much of himself in me with my mindset, and I have thrived under his system for 2 years to get me to this point. I have seen his system take a losing team to a 20-win team, so I am excited to continue playing in it.
Are there any guys that you try to model your game after?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I try to model my game after anyone, but I try to pick up certain aspects of guys game that I think could be useful in my game. For example, James Harden’s step back, or the way Westbrook uses his body in the lane. It is not always NBA players though, I could be watching someone on my team or in high school and see something that I feel I could use. It doesn’t matter to me who it is or the level, I just care about adding something new all the time to make me that much harder to guard.
Did you watch or follow much of VCU?
I have followed VCU for years now. I always try to keep track of Virginia teams and how they are doing and especially VCU because of the close ties I have to the program. I have always been a fan of VCU since my sister went there years ago.
Did you have a feeling Rhoades would end up at VCU and that you might follow him?
I had a feeling Rhoades would end up there eventually but I had no idea it would be this fast so I did not expect for me to be there with him because i figured the time frame would be after I graduated. I know this has been Rhoades’ dream job since he was there as an assistant coach. I was shocked to see Wade leave to go to LSU so soon but when I saw the news I had a pretty good feeling that Rhoades would be the man for the job.
What’s your relationship like with Joey Rodriguez?
Me and Joey have known each other since high school, when he was coaching at Benedictine. i have been a fan of his since his final four run, so when he got the job at Rice I was excited because I had the chance to learn from someone who has played at the highest level in college and where I have been trying to reach. Over the years at Rice we have become really close to the point now that I see him as a big brother to me.
What VCU guys are you most excited about playing with?
I am excited about playing with all of the players here at VCU. from my visit and from following VCU for years I know there is a crazy amount of talent here and with Rhoades it will only get better. I am excited to play against these guys in practice then battle anyone in the country with them. I am most excited about sitting out this season to go at Johnny though because I already told him everyday I’m going right at him on scout team haha.