Elite Class of 2023 Recruit Kwame “KJ” Evans Jr. Lists UCLA Men’s Basketball in Top 5
The Bruins have moved onto the next stage in their recruitment of one of the highest-rated prospects in the nation.
Class of 2023 power forward Kwame “KJ” Evans Jr. revealed his top five finalists to On3Recruits on Monday, and UCLA men’s basketball made the cut. Fighting alongside the Bruins for Evans’ commitment are Oregon, Kentucky, Auburn and Indiana.
Brown is also sitting on offers from DePaul, Florida, George Washington, Georgetown, Howard, Illinois, Kansas State, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Mississippi, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and Xavier, but those schools appear to be out of the running for the time being.
Originally from Baltimore, Evans transferred to Montverde Academy (FL) last summer, joining a program that has produced Joel Embiid, Cade Cunningham, D’Angelo Russell, Ben Simmons, Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett and former UCLA wing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Evans also plays his AAU ball for Team Durant in the Nike EYBL circuit.
Montverde won its sixth-ever GEICO Nationals boys championship on Saturday, and Evans played a major part in the victory over Link Academy. Evans scored 11 points on 50% shooting from the field, knocking down three 3-pointers, including one in the final moments that acted as the dagger in the contest.
Evans is a five-star prospect according to the 247Sports Composite, Rivals and ESPN. The 247Sports Composite and ESPN both have Evans ranked as the No. 1 player in Florida, No. 1 power forward and No. 2 overall player in the country, while Rivals has him listed as the No. 5 prospect in his class.
The 247Sports Composite has Evans rated higher than any player who has ever committed to the Bruins besides Shabazz Muhammad.
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Last AAU season, Evans averaged roughly 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, in addition to over 1 steal and more than 1 block. Evans has routinely shot in the mid-to-high 30 percents from 3, and he attempts plenty of triples even with his long frame.
Evans is 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, currently boasting the playstyle and build of an athletic stretch-four or high-ceiling tweener.
Considering coach Mick Cronin does not yet have a commit for his 2023 recruiting class, Evans would be quite the crown jewel. Guard Dusty Stromer has UCLA in his top four, while shooting guard Rayvon Griffith has them in his top 10, giving the Bruins a solid shot at two separate four-stars.
But with Mookie Cook committing to Oregon over UCLA at the end of March, the odds of Cronin reeling in another five-star blue chip are becoming increasingly reliant on Evans’ decision.
Cronin has signed three McDonald’s All-Americans in the past two cycles, and Evans could be the next. Point guard Isaiah Collier is the other candidate to join the ranks of Peyton Watson, Amari Bailey and Adem Bona, considering he has UCLA in his top seven, but Evans is only one step away from potentially adding his name to that list himself.