APEX — One of the first things you notice about T.J. Evans when you watch an Apex basketball game is that sweet jump shot.
The senior point guard has a quick shot, with no wasted motion. The left arm is straight. The elbow is tucked in. He can send a ball to the bottom of the net 30 feet away with a simple flick of the wrist.
Things arent always as they appear. That sweet shot isnt natural. And just because hes the go-to scorer with a green light to shoot from anywhere doesnt mean hes not more concerned about how the team is faring than his own stats or glory.
His shot has only come about in the last four years because of an unorthodox shooting motion prior to that.
He used to shoot with two hands, said Tracy Evans, T.J.s dad. When we first moved here from Minnesota, we started going to the gym and I started having him shoot with one hand.
The transition wasnt easy at first. But Evans is no stranger to hard work.
Thousands of jump shots later, Evans won the conference player of the year award as a sophomore and junior.
Hes been absolutely tremendous for us for two years, Apex coach David Neal said. It didnt always come as easy to him his junior year as it did his sophomore year, but hes steady.
Evans will shoot baskets or play pickup games with men two or three times his age at Lifetime, then shower and head to school for the 7:20 a.m. bell. Hell then head to basketball practice in the afternoon before more shooting and workouts at Lifetime.
I was going with him for a while, his dad said. But then I was like, Hey man, thats too early for me.
His work ethic is outstanding, Neal said. He really wants it bad.
Evans still eyes a state championship for his Cougar teammates and his coach, but Apex (2-4) has had a slow start to that goal.
could take these struggles and worry about where hes going next year, if a team will think his 6-foot frame is enough to contribute in college. Instead, his focus is to get better as a leader and turn the year around.
I want to do everything as a team, Evans said. I know Ive had a couple of bad games, but I want to work on being a leader and leading my team to victories, rather than me getting better as a player.
Obviously, our goal is the state championship. I think we have all the tools to do it, and I really want that not for me, but for coach Neal, our players. They deserve it.
Its not unlike Evans to think of others, and it shows in his tattoos.
On his left arm is a set of praying hands with the names of his mom and dad. And on the inside of each bicep are the names of his younger brothers, Rylan, 8, and Ayden, 7.
Maybe youll get a chance to read one of them as he rises up for one of those smooth jump shots that Apex has come to count on.