Another member of Duke basketball’s highly touted 2024 recruiting class made his commitment official Monday when North Mecklenburg High School’s Isaiah Evans signed his national letter of intent to play for the Blue Devils.
Evans, a 5-star recruit and reigning Mr. Basketball in North Carolina, said this was a dream come true. He said being able to play for Jon Scheyer’s Blue Devils was a sign that his hard work is paying off.
“It is a lot of hours put in that a lot of dudes don’t see,” Evans said. “Sometimes you feel like it is all for nothing. You know, sometimes you go out there and have a bad game and it is like, ‘I put all of this work in for what?’ This is what it is for, to be able to sign this paper.”
Evans’ mother, Marieke Lemon, was overcome with emotion watching her son.
“I feel like (what) everybody misses is that Isaiah has had the biggest adversity that you can ever imagine,” Lemon said. “He has had a lot of people let him down. Watching him behind the scenes continue to work hard on his own, you know he is up at 5 a.m. every day. It is in his mind, the work ethic that he has. People will say, ‘Oh he is so cocky.’ He is confident. He understands the work he has put in and shows it on the court.”
Vikings head coach Duane Lewis has helped guide Evans through a busy recruiting process. A 6-foot-7 wing, Evans is a top 10 national recruit with plenty of offers. But Lewis said he felt Duke was a great place for Evans after having frequent conversations with head coach Jon Scheyer.
“Coach Scheyer has always trusted and wanted Isaiah to be Isaiah,” Lewis said. “Isaiah is emotional and he plays with a lot of passion. But, coach Scheyer is always like, ‘We want you to be you, Isaiah.’ That made an impression on him and his family.”
Lewis said he knew Duke had made an impression on Evans when the high school star took his visit to the school to see a game against Ohio State.
“When he went on that visit and they had him in the crowd,” Lewis began, “I was like you can’t experience anything else like that. I was out at a restaurant with my wife and I looked up and all of a sudden you see Isaiah leading the chants in the crowd. I was like, ‘Oh it is a done deal.’”
Evans said he knew it was going to be Duke when they came and saw him play last year against West Cabarrus in the playoffs.
“I saw coach Scheyer and coach (Amile) Jefferson walk in,” Evans said. “I didn’t know they were coming. The (West Cabarrus) coach was sitting on the sideline and I was like, ‘Oh it is going to get bad for y’all tonight. Now I’ve got to show out.’”