Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Evanson a master of versatility
Nick Evanson helped the Brainerd Warriors to a Section 8-4A Quarterfinal victory over St. Michael-Albertville.
BRAINERD -- Nick Evanson’s ability to adjust his skillsets to counter an opponent is unusual and beneficial.
The 6-foot-2, senior, forward for the Brainerd Warriors boys’ basketball team has the ability to guard anybody on the basketball court regardless of size and ability. He does it at such a high level that he is usually tasked with guarding the other team’s best player.
Plus, he rebounds, scores and keeps the mood light in the locker room. For all of those reasons and more, Evanson is a vital reason why the Warriors are 22-5 and playing in the Section 8-4A Semifinals 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in Moorhead.
“It’s a lot of things and not a quick answer,” Warriors head coach Charlie Schoeck said when asked what makes Evanson so valuable. “When you really boil it down, Nick is just a basketball player. He will do whatever it takes on either end of the floor to win games. Whether that is being our leading rebounder one night, taking more of a scoring burden another night or being a point guard and getting us into our stuff. He could be guarding one of the big guys from an opposing team or being one of the best on-ball perimeter defenders in our conference and our section.
“It’s a number of things. Nick is going to do whatever it takes to win games and that mentality is a valuable thing.”
In the Warriors 65-47 Section 8-4A Quarterfinal victory over St. Michael-Albertville March 7, Evanson finished with 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block, all while, guarding one of STMA’s top offensive threats in Jeremiah Johnson, who scored 19 points the last time Brainerd defeated STMA Feb. 25.
“If the other team has a star player that really needs to be locked down then I focus more on defense and less on scoring,” Evanson said. “If the other team is just a solid team throughout the whole roster then I focus a little more on scoring because I don't have to focus as much on my defensive role.”
Evanson is averaging 6.9 rebounds a game with 187 total. He’s reached double digits in four games. He’s also recorded 23 steals and 11 blocked shots.
“That defensive flexibility is a lot more difficult than Nick makes it look,” Schoeck said. “There are a lot of things that go into it. It’s being really focused on the game plan and the scouting report for every game and knowing what that role is going to look like. Then just the physical piece of it and being able to change those gears from going to bumping and grinding with big guys in the paint or being quick and nimble out on the perimeter. There is a big physical and mental aspect to doing the things that he does.
“He makes it look a lot easier than it actually is.”
The Warriors struggled at the end of the regular season going 2-2, but Evanson did what he does. In a 68-54 loss to Alexandria, after already clinching the Central Lakes Conference title, he finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
During Brainerd’s 92-64 victory over St. Cloud Tech, Evanson tallied 24 points to go with seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block.
Evanson admitted the Alexandria game wasn’t a good game, but perhaps a good loss heading into the postseason.
“It was kind of disappointing not to finish the season undefeated in the conference, but that Alexandria game was bad,” Evanson said. “It was good to get that one out of the way.
“It definitely woke us up because we know that if we ever play like that again we’re going to get knocked out of the playoffs. Our practices became more intense and we woke up.”
While Evanson is all business on the court and gives 100% to help the team win, there’s another side to the three-year varsity veteran. A side some might not see.
“I kind of just try to give the team a lot of confidence because I feel like when we’re confident we play better,” Evanson said. “I’m very social before games so I just talk to everyone. I play music in the locker room for everyone. I’m usually pretty social and when I’m not social that means I’m not confident and that’s not very good. I like staying social.”
That unique leadership style has been a benefit to a young Warrior squad.
“That’s some of the intangible stuff that you can't read in the paper or see in the box score,” Schoeck said. “He’s a guy in the locker room who really keeps guys loose. He likes to joke around and have a good time. He keeps the mood light and keeps them in a positive mindset.
“In game, too, he’s like another coach out on the floor. With his role, no matter what it is that day, he’s also in tune with everybody else’s role and what they should be doing in games. He keeps guys on task and focused during games.”
What often goes most overlooked in Evanson’s game is his offense. More succinctly, how efficient he is on the offensive end. The forward averages 15.8 points a game, which is second on the team, but he’s shooting .60% from the field, 70% from the line and 37% from 3-point. He’s only attempted 291 shots and made 173 of them.
He makes it look a lot easier than it actually is.
“The efficiency is partly why it often goes unnoticed,” Schoeck said. “You’ll see multiple games where he’ll end up in mid-teens to 20 points in a game and he only took 10 to 12 shots. He’s able to score efficiently and a lot of that is taking advantage of mismatches and what he may have guarding him that day.
“There will be games where he has a slower guy guarding him and those are the games you’ll see him taking it to the basket. He is really a great finisher around the rim and has the ability to jump out to the free throw line, too, which adds to that efficiency.”
Evanson scored 23 points in a loss to Moorhead and came back with 25 points in the first game with STMA. He hit for 23 at St. Cloud Tech Jan. 31 and scored 25 against Centennial Dec. 30. He’s only not reached double figures three times, but all three were Brainerd wins and he was probably focused on defense.
“He has a very high IQ and there are a lot of different factors that go into it,” Schoeck said. “Watches film and watching basketball, in general, can be a big piece to that, but he’s kind of a throwback in that he likes to play a lot of pick-up basketball and I think that’s something that is lost with a lot of younger guys. Just playing the game without structure can be a good teaching tool. Playing against older guys and playing pick up guys at where ever you learn while playing and that is something that has been beneficial for him.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Career highlight: Defeating Buffalo in last year’s Section 8-4A Semifinals in Buffalo
Grade-point average: 3.3
Favorite class: Math
Favorite food: Calamari
Favorite movie: “Bad Boys II”
Favorite TV show: “South Park”
Favorite musician: Lil Wayne
Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
Future plans: Attend four-year college and major in finance or accounting
Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant
Parents: Tami Evanson and Jason Evanson
Other notable performances
Johnny Pecarich, boys’ basketball, finished with 29 points against St. Michael-Albertville.