Davian Joseph and Tevin Evans helped to push one another through hundreds of hours of drills, basketball workouts and even competed through post-workout slam dunk contests. The two athletes brought that same competitive mentality into this past weekend’s National Basketball Association (NBA) G-League Tryouts.
Joseph, a former SLIAC (St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Player of the Week, graduated last year following a successful senior season that saw him average 8.8 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game and hit on an efficient 49 percent shooting from the field.
The Pennsylvania native tried out for the Wisconsin Herd this past Saturday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, making it into the top ten participants. Joseph was eventually voted out, but left the event with a positive, upbeat mentality.
“I was told that my size wasn’t big enough, even though I did absolutely great in stationery drills and in-game,” Joseph said. “I was told I am a two-way guard and need to become bigger and stronger. So, my goal now is to look for other gym opportunities, but in the process, get in the gym and go for 230 pounds.”
Joseph said that when the chance comes around again, he expects to tryout again.
For Evans, tryouts also took place on Saturday at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz. with the Northern Arizona Suns. Evans, well known for his shooting ability, broke out for the Gorloks men’s basketball during the 2014-15 season, where he averaged 8.1 points per game and 42 percent shooting.
Evans will not know whether or not he has received an official invite from the Northern Arizona Suns camp until October 3, but says that he feels very confident in his all-around performance.
“The tryout itself was pretty good,” Evans said. “I played really well. Defense was key for me. My passing was good. My jumpshot was on too. I was happy about that.”
Evans also spoke fondly of Arizona, where he is being supported by former Webster alums. Through multiple workouts per day and over a week to train, the guard has been able to grow a positive rapport in Phoenix.
Similar to Joseph, Evans has a plan prepared if the G-League tryout proves unsuccessful. Through networking, Evans has formed a relationship with two agents, and says that he plans to play basketball in Guerlain, Spain.
“They pretty much set you up with agents and coaches,” Evans said. “They put you through mandatory practices, mandatory games. The hotels are all paid for, breakfast, brunch, dinner. I’ve got some backup plans.”
Weighing out the risks and rewards, the incentives of that potential G-League challenge are worth the $200 installation fee. During the 2017-18 NBA season, a league-record 265 players with G-League experience were a part of professional rosters, which, per the G-League’s official website, represented 53 percent of the entire league.
Joseph, in particular, felt confident in his circumstances, given the improvements he had made this summer with coaches and the advice given to him.
“Everyone, especially my family, they were telling me to ‘just go in there and do what you’ve gotta do’” Joseph said. “A lot of them were asking if I would be nervous. To be honest, if I was younger, I would have been, but as my game has evolved, so have I. What else do I have to lose?”
Despite their respective talents, pickings were slim in terms of battling hundreds of participants for a handful of spots. Regardless of the results, both former Gorloks players spoke positively of what they anticipated for the future.
During the summer, both Evans and Joseph looked to iron out weaknesses and become more complete players. The two went through training with Jacob Hedgcorth, the head skills trainer for a basketball program called 2 Dribble Basketball. Hedgcorth spoke positively not only of both players’ chances, but also their reputations in the past.
“They both have a great ability,” Hedgcorth said. “Every time we train, I try to teach them how to exploit their strengths. Both of them do that very well, but at the same time, we work on weaknesses.”
The process started when Hedgcorth, who had been training with fellow Gorloks men’s basketball player Josh Johnson, was approached by Evans and Joseph, in hopes of starting their own training regimen. Through those drills, each player saw an increase in both skill and confidence.
In the coming years, the love and passion to continue will be a key aspect in determining if they continue towards that goal. Both players have expressed the desire to continue moving forward, even if the G-League results fell short. For Joseph, it represents his greatest form of motivation.
“I think each year I played basketball, I have gotten more passion for it,” Joseph said. “More of a drive that I wanted to make it. To get to that new level, and be someday seen on TV.”