The biggest hoops story out of Maryland this spring is certainly the recruiting saga of Tyree Evans, the 23-year old JuCo shooting guard with a sweet jumper and lots of baggage.
I will assume familiarity with Evans’ background, since it has been mentioned by several local and national media outlets. But for those who understandably needed to take some time off from the Terps following another season that ended in a NIT loss, here are some of the best articles I’ve seen chronicling his situation:
As expected, considering the high risk Evans represents, there is a spirited controversy over whether the Terps should take a chance on Evans. Valid points have been made by both sides. Rick Maese of The Sun argues that coach Gary Williams is overstepping his boundaries by pursuing Evans seemingly on his own. His colleague, Kevin Van Valkenburg, claims that the Terps are making the right move.
Assuming Evans is admitted to Maryland (he must first pass a review by the Maryland disciplinary office), he will clearly be judged by two factors; his on-the-court performance and his ability to stay out of trouble off the court. There will be little tolerance for failure in either area.
Evans is not the only one on the hot seat. There’s no denying that head coach Gary Williams, Evans’ champion, will be either criticized or praised depending on the guard’s ability to succeed on the hardwood and in College Park.
Williams essentially put his 600-plus wins and national championship on the line. Make no mistake about it, the responsibility is all his. AD Debbie Yow was left in the dark during Evans’ recruitment. Evans is his man.
On-the-court and off-the-court success will determine whether the move was successful for both Evans and Williams, but they are also incomplete.
Sure, Williams’ legacy will forever be linked with Evans. But, it also depends on the University of Tennessee’s new point guard.
Lost in the debate over the merits of bringing Evans to Maryland is the man whose scholarship Evans is now on the verge of taking, JuCo PG Bobby Maze.
Maze verbally committed to Maryland in December, during his first and only season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, where he averaged 20.7 points, 6.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. Maze started his collegiate career at Oklahoma, where he chipped in 5.6 points and 2.1 assists per game during his freshman year.
Like Evans, Maze does not have a squeaky-clean past. According to Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel, Maze and the Sooners decided to “part ways” following his freshman season. Maze’s attitude was reportedly the source of his falling out with Capel and the program. It was eerily similar to Evans’ troubles at Butler (Kan.) Community College, where he was dismissed from the team midseason, reportedly after being voted off the squad by his teammates despite being a top player.
Also like Evans, Maze seems to have rebounded from his past mistakes and was, by all accounts, a delightful teammate this past season at Hutchinson. His coach Ryan Swanson noted, “Bobby was clearly our best player, but I think the guys also respected Bobby because he was also our hardest worker.” That's quite different from the attitude Maze displayed at Oklahoma.
Differentiating Maze from Evans, though, is the fact that Maze does not have a criminal background. He is far less risky of a recruit.
Evans signed with Maryland on April 16, forcing Williams to drop his pursuit of Maze since Evans took Maryland’s last available scholarship.
By choosing Evans over Maze, Williams upped the ante. Not many questioned the recruitment of Maze. Williams got a player in Evans who has a higher upside than Maze, but he also carries the coach’s legacy in the palm of his hands.
And for a coach whose seat is already a bit warm, recruiting a super high-risk/high-reward player is the equivalent of going "all-in."
Even though he’ll be playing in Knoxville, Maze could have a significant impact in College Park this season.
Maze’s performance won’t upstage Evans’ in terms of importance. If Evans ends up being Steve Francis 2.0, no one in College Park will care how Maze is playing. But if Evans is simply a good player—think Bambale Osby—more than a few Terps fans will be looking a little more carefully at Tennessee box scores.
And if Evans turns into Parrish Brown or Sterling Ledbetter redux, while Maze shines at Tennessee? There will be big trouble in Garyland. In fact, Garyland might even need a new mailing address.
That also will hold true if Evans gets into trouble during his stint at Maryland, especially if Maze is a model citizen.
This type of pressure is hard to imagine for one of the most successful coaches in ACC history. Can you imagine Coach K ever being on the hot seat? Having your name on the court seems to be pretty good job security. But, such is the risk with players with Evans’ baggage.
Tyree Evans, Gary Williams, Bobby Maze. The three will forever be linked together in the history book of Terps basketball. Williams just hopes this isn’t the last chapter in which he appears.