• Loading KStateSports Tweets...
    1 second ago

EVANS LOOKS AT K-STATE OPPORTUNITY AS 'A BLESSING'

Also See: Wildcats Close Best Season in School History

EVANS LOOKS AT K-STATE OPPORTUNITY AS 'A BLESSING'

By Mark Janssen    

Lamont Evans says "basketball has been a blessing."
    
For the 33-year-old Evans, one basketball prayer after another has been answered starting with his playing career that weaved him through a pair of junior colleges - Seminole (Fla.) and St. Catharine (Ky.) College - before enrolling at Drake for two seasons in 1999-2001 where he averaged eight points and six assists per game.

That was followed by a seven-year professional career, which included a stint in the U.S. Basketball League and International hoops teams in Slovenia, Germany, Finland, Belgium and Venezuela.
   
Now this past Friday, Kansas State coach Frank Martin has given Evans the opportunity to be an assistant basketball coach with the Wildcats.
   
"You start off playing for fun, but then always want to play professionally, and when that's over you consider coaching," said Evans.  "Everyone takes a different path, but mine has been blessed by being associated with some wonderful people."
   
For the last three years, the 33-year-old Evans has served as K-State's undergraduate/ graduate student manager while completing his degree in social science in 2009, and then beginning work on his master's degree in College Student Personnel and Intercollegiate Athletics.
   
"Lamont has really earned this opportunity," said Martin.   "After recommending him to other head coaches around the country early in the spring, I knew I had a great candidate in-house when Dalonte left the staff.   He has really earned everyone's trust, including most importantly, the players.   He has a great basketball mind and an engaging personality.  I think all of these characteristics will make an outstanding assistant coach." 
   
After being offered a full-time coaching position last week, Evans says, "This definitely puts me ahead of the curve.  A lot of people say you will need at least five years before you get a good job, so I'm two years ahead.  I'm very honored and grateful."
   
Evans admitted to being "a little surprised, but not shocked" with the invitation to join the K-State staff.
   
"Frank always talked about being prepared, and I was always treated fairly by the entire staff," said Evans, who will receive a salary of $135,000.  "Frank stresses being prepared and everyone around him has a great work ethic.  I've just tried to soak up all those things from every member on the staff.  It's all been a blessing."
   
While young to the coaching/recruiting world, Evans said, "I have a passion for helping young student-athletes get better.  I have the experience of playing in Europe and being in NBA tryout camps, so I think my IQ is pretty high in basketball.  I've always been a student of the game."
   
A native of Eleuthera, Bahamas, Evans came to the United States with his family as a 5-year-old and later attended Hallandale (Fla.) High School in the mid-1990s.  That was also the time that Martin was the head coach of Miami Senior High School.
   
"We knew of each other then, but the first time I talked with Frank was in the summer of 2008 when I was coaching AAU basketball," said Evans.  "It was just a time to get caught up, but he asked me what I wanted to do and he ended up offering me the chance to be graduate student manager."
   
Evans made it a point to take advantage of Martin's invitation.
   
"I made it a point to be the first one in the huddle and learn every drill and developmental skill they taught," said Evans, who also held the duties of breaking down game video, assisting in scouting and coordinating film exchange.  "It was a chance to step back from playing and learn the game from a different perspective."
   
Evans added, "To watch guys like Denis (Clemente) and Jake (Pullen) come in and develop into not only outstanding basketball players, but solid student-athletes has been a great learning experience for me.   I'm honored to work aside such a close-knit group of coaches and look forward to working with them to build on an already solid foundation."
   
Looking on down the road of his coaching career, Evans said, "I want to learn as much as I can from Frank, and the rest of the staff, but sure, I would love to be a head coach one day.  Frank prepares his players for the next level, and he does the same with his coaches."
   
OTHER STAFF CHANGES
Evans will join a staff that has shifted in responsibilities with the departure of Dalonte Hill to Maryland.
   
Assistant coach Brad Underwood has been elevated to associate head coach, and fellow assistant Matt Figger to recruiting coordinator.  They will make $205,000 and $185,000, respectively.
   
"I'm certainly appreciative of the confidence that John Currie and Frank Martin has in me to serve in this new role," said Underwood, who has been a part of a school-record 118 victories in his last five years on the coaching staffs of Bob Huggins and Martin.  "I'm lucky that I not only get to work at my alma mater, but also get to work with a great group of coaches in Frank, Matt (Figger), Lamont (Evans), Andy (Assaley) and Scott (Greenawalt).   I'm excited about continuing to build on the solid foundation that we have built these past few seasons."
   
Underwood received much acclaim during the 2010-11 season, as Martin took his suggestion of adjusting the offensive scheme to the "pinch-post" in early January.  As a result, the Wildcats were able to rattle off nine wins in their last 11 regular-season games to earn their fifth consecutive 20-win season and their third trip to NCAA Tournament in four seasons. 
   
The 47-year-old Underwood played for the Wildcats from 1984-86 under legendary coach Jack Hartman.
   
Along with Underwood, the 41-year-old Figger has been a part of the K-State program for the last four years when the Wildcats have earned four consecutive 20-win seasons and a quartet of postseason appearances, including NCAA Tournament bids in 2008, 2010 and 2011. 
"I'm obviously thankful to both Frank and the administration to continue in this expanded role," said Figger.  "We have a great staff here at K-State and it obviously starts with Frank's leadership.   It's a pleasure to work alongside these guys.  I'm excited to get back out and keep the momentum going into next season."
   
The back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances are the first since the squad went to four consecutive tournaments from 1987-90.  Overall, the Wildcats have posted a 95-43 (.688) overall record, including a 40-24 (.625) mark in Big 12 play, during Figger's tenure.  The 95 wins tie for the most in a four-year period in school history.
    
"I'm excited to reward Brad and Matt with these new roles," Martin said.  "These past five years, Brad has earned the right to assist me with the daily decisions of running our program.  Matt has been assisting Dalonte with organizing our recruiting efforts these past few years and he is very prepared to take over this responsibility.  Both guys have been an integral part of our success and I'm looking forward to having them by my side as we continue to build this program."


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.