Renaissance Man: R.J. Evans Gets His Master’s Degree

by Categorized: Kevin Ollie, R.J. Evans, UConn men's basketball
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STORRS – R.J. Evans’ year at UConn is complete. He has reached his goals, and developed a few more.

Evans will receive his master’s degree in educational psychology on Saturday in UConn’s graduate ceremony, having completed the 30-credit program in 12 months – as he was playing basketball for the Huskies.

“I tell coach [Kevin] Ollie, ‘if R.J. were a mutual fund, I’d be buying him right now,’” says Scott Brown, Evans’ academic advisor, “because he’s going to be doing something.”

Evans, from Salem, Conn., arrived at UConn last summer with a degree in economics from Holy Cross and one year’s playing eligibility. Once he accepted a scholarship to play basketball, he asked Brown, who is UConn’s NCAA faculty representative and a professor of educational psychology, about the program.

“R.J. said he wanted to be a basketball coach,” Brown said, “and I told him a lot of famous coaches have studied educational psychology.”

Those would include former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, who has a PHd in educational psychology.

Evans began taking courses last summer, and carried a full load during the season. It normally takes 18 months to two years, but Evans, with summer and inter-session courses, finished up in 12 months, with strong grades, Brown says. (He cannot give out a student’s GPA)

“One of his professors told me, ‘he didn’t say much in class, but he got one of the highest grades on his final exam,” Brown said. “He was the same way in my class. You’d have to call on him, but when he participates, he’s thoughtful, he’s intelligent. R.J. is very quiet, but he is very bright.”

And that is not all. Evans, who turns 23 on May 20, is working as a volunteer with a law firm in Windham, and preparing to take the law boards in June.  He is in Gampel Pavilion frequently, keeping his basketball skills sharp, too, in case there is a chance to play overseas.

“He’s so good, I am going to hire him to be a teaching assistant in one of my courses next semester,” Brown said. “He would be such a great role model for other students. I ask him, ‘how are you able to do all of this?’ and he says, “I just make the time.”

Evans, who rehabbed a shoulder injury in November, played in 27 games, averaging 15.1 minutes, 3.1 points. In one year, he set a remarkable example and carved out a unique niche in Huskies history.

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