Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 1/20/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

No longer known for just his insanely cool Kid ‘n Play haircut, the Wisconsin Badgers junior forward Ryan Evans is starting to get noticed for his solid production on the court.

Evans has scored double-digits in ten games this season and is one of the best defenders on a squad which ranks tops in the NCAA when it comes to locking down opponents.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona is one of the biggest surprises of a wild-and-crazy season in the Big Ten.

Believe it or not, Evans made his first career start in the Badgers season opener versus Kennesaw State. Since then, he’s stepped into a pivotal role as the team’s leading rebounder and defensive stalwart. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten with just under seven rebounds per game and ranks seventh with 1.3 blocks per game.

Wisconsin stumbled out of the gates in conference play, going 1-3, but have quickly regained momentum while winning their last three. Evans has been instrumental in helping this team turn it around.

In the Badgers latest win over Northwestern, Evans scored 15 of his team-high 17 points (7-for-13 shooting) in the second half. A big knack on Evans in the past has been his horrible jump shot. However, he’s turned that around in a hurry while shooting a surprising 44.4 percent from the field.

Followers may be surprised, but Head Coach Bo Ryan isn’t fooled because he knows the player Evans is capable of being.

“The more he plays to his strengths, the better team player he is because he gets results—he can get fouled, he can get to the line, he can get to the glass, he can face up,” said Ryan following the team’s 20 point win over the Cats.

The only question in Evans’ game now is consistency. He plays great in the Badgers wins, but seems to falter in their losses. Northwestern Head Coach, Bill Carmody, hit it right on the head when he referred to Evans as the “x-factor.”

In a shocking loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes at home, he played the lowest amount of minutes (15) on the year due to foul trouble. He followed that game up with a 3-for-15 shooting performance and four rebounds in 40 minutes versus the Spartans, another loss at home.

When Evans plays well, the Badgers play well.

The notion was in full effect when Evans threw down one of the best ally-oop dunks of the year. When asked if it was the best of his career, he responded, “I don’t know, it felt good though. Rob (Wilson) was saying I couldn’t jump anymore, so I had to show him a little something.”

What do you think of Evans’ play of late? Is he the x-factor for the Badgers? Let me know by commenting below!

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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