Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — For the majority of his freshman season, Zane Trace’s Cam Evans acted as the program’s junior varsity point guard and saw limited playing time at the varsity level.
He ended his career this past winter as the SVC’s No. 4 all-time scorer, the Pioneers’ all-time leading scorer, a two-time conference Player of the Year and a two-time district champion.
All without playing at the varsity level for much of his entire freshman year … let that sink in.
Evans saved, arguably, his best all-around year for his last in Kinnikinnick.
He led the SVC in scoring with 21.6 points per game alongside 2.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per night. He also shot 53 percent from the floor, 33 percent from deep and nailed 77 percent of his free throw tries.
For those efforts, Evans has been selected as SOSA’s tri-Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“Being a Player of the Year to me is so special, but what I pride myself in is also being a Player of the Year off the court, being a great leader for underclassmen and talking to the little kids and older people that come and support me,” Evans said. “I’ve worked very hard and I love being able to represent Zane Trace and my family with getting the award.”
Coming into the season, the Pioneers had racked up 14 straight wins in conference play. That number had swelled to 17 by Dec. 21.
That night, the streak ended in a 38-36 loss to archrival Unioto. However, Evans says that night also set a fire that continued to burn throughout the rest of the regular season.
“This season was very special because losing that SVC game in the beginning of the year … we really had to dig deep. It was time to really show our heart, or either give up,” Evans said. “I think the guys dug deep and we bounced back and ended with a great season.”
The end result was a 22-4 overall record alongside a 13-1 mark inside the SVC — which included a 51-37 win over Unioto on Jan. 18, a revenge win to help seal a share of the league title.
“The second time we played Unioto stood out for me,” Evans said. “The entire Zane Trace community came out to support us in that rivalry game and it was just a beautiful atmosphere. It was a great game of basketball.”
After winning a share of their second consecutive league title, the Pioneers embarked on yet another lengthy postseason run. In 2018-19, the program nailed down their first district title since 1970.
This winter, they made it two straight with a hard-fought 54-50 victory over Ironton on March 11.
“It’s amazing for the team to be able to make history again. I think for the team and [the] Zane Trace [community], it shows that if you work hard, then all the cards will fall into place, and that anybody can do something special,” Evans said. “The community rallied around us and supported us the whole way and I think that builds a culture.”
Evans ended his season as Division III’s District 14 and Southeast District Player of the Year. His conference POY honor made him the 10th player in SVC history to win the award twice.
He was also a second-team All-Ohioan … and probably the biggest snub on the all-state list.
But it doesn’t matter where he finished on any sort of list. Evan is simply happy to have helped his teammates hoist another trophy.
“I think that I improved on finding other guys this season, getting other people shots and letting the game really come to me,” Evans said. “Everyone doubled me and face-guarded me all the time. So just being able to set my guys up a little more helped the team so much.”
Evans will be remembered for many things during his time at ZT … his infectious smile, his ability to weave through defenses towards the rim and his knack for scoring are just a few.
He graduates in the company of Pioneer greats including Jeff Reisinger, Pierce Mowery and Dave Hammond … in fact, he leaves leading that group on the all-time scoring list.
But possibly the most prestigious trait of his legacy is his ability to be a leader in general.
“Winning the scoring title is really awesome to me. When I first started playing basketball, I wasn’t the best player. But I worked as hard as I possibly could to try and make myself the best,” Evans said. “To be able to go down as the best scorer in Zane Trace history is such an honor. I hope to have left a legacy as a leader. I want to be someone that looks and acts approachable and someone who an entire community can rally behind. I feel I did that. I love the ZT community, and all of my family, friends and coaches that have helped me get here.”