When Buffalo guard Shannon Evans heard his coach was headed to Arizona State, thoughts of transferring to Bobby Hurley's new program instantly entered his mind.
The move made sense. Evans had thrived in Hurley's fast pace offense, and transferring to a higher-profile school figured to help his draft stock.
"I had to talk to my parents and the old coaches that were still there," said Evans at last week's media day. "But I knew all along I wanted to stay with coach Hurley."
His old coaches almost didn't allow the move. They were originally set on blocking a transfer to the Sun Devils (along with all MAC schools and hometown VCU and Old Dominion), but eventually softened on that stance. Once the technicalities were out of the way, Evans made the decision final.
While he may not be eligible right away, his addition to the roster is important. Evans is the only player on the team with playing experience under Hurley, and that knowledge will help the current players get used to their new coach earlier than usual.
"I am just trying to get these guys better," Evans says. "Whether it is with new drills or getting Tra Holder and Gerry Blakes (the team's starting guards) used to the new system, I just want them ready to go for the start of the season."
Evans will spend the majority of time in practice guarding Holder, a tough chore for the 6-foot-1 Holder, going against someone that possesses more knowledge than he does of the plays that are being run. And while the experience might be challenging at first, it should pay off big time once the point guard is playing new opponents come November.
As far as the kind of offense that Holder will be running, the coaching staff is still working on implementing it. One thing we know for sure, however, is that it is going to look a lot different from what we saw in the Sendek era.
"I haven't talked to the guys about playing games in the 50's," said Hurley. "We are talking about playing with a quicker tempo, which is going to get more possessions on offense for the guys. And I think that is what players like to do."
Evans, who spent two seasons thriving in Hurley's up-tempo offense, likes the form that the system has started to take throughout preseason workouts.
"It is going to be real fast paced," he said. "We want to get up and down in transition and score quickly. I definitely prefer that to playing slow."
With Holder being the only true point guard on the roster that is eligible to play this year, the sting of sitting on the bench during games hurts Evans even more.
As a result, sophomore Kodi Justice and South Plains College transfer Andre Spight will both receive looks at the one over the next few weeks as Hurley tries to find a suitable backup for the times when Holder needs a breather.
"It is really hard to sit out a whole season after playing almost 35 minutes a game (last year)," says Evans. "It's tough on me mentally, but it also gives me a chance to work on my game and help out the other guys."
The Buffalo transfer led his team in minutes played last season and was second in points scored with 15.4 per game. Hurley was quick in his praise of Evans during media day, calling him an All-Pac-12 guard on multiple occasions.
"He is special," Hurley said. "I hope everyone watches the way he plays and sees what he does day in and day out."
Evans, and the rest of the Sun Devils, started practice last Friday in preparation for the 2015-16 campaign. Their first game of the season will be an exhibition against Western New Mexico on November 7, with the regular season starting six days later against Sacramento State.