What do you call a young man who is a perfect gentleman in general, a genius in the classroom, and a beast on the basketball court? You call him a modern day Renaissance Man. That’s just who Evan Jester is. Jester is a 6’6” and 185-pound forward on the Sandy Creek basketball team with a 4.0 GPA and the heart of a saint.
The Early Years
When asked which gifted manifested first, the academic or athletic, Oscar Jester, Evan’s father, said, “Definitely the academics. Evan was watching Sesame Street, Hooked On Phonics, and Your Baby Can Read videos when he was an infant. His kindergarten teacher was the first to mention that he was getting bored because he already knew what they were teaching him.”
Karen Jester, Evan’s mom, added, “Evan has always been a bright and active kid. He began reading at the age of four and began piano lessons at the age of five. Although he played the piano until age 15, he enthusiastically severed ties with the ivory keys for his first love – basketball. Once his father introduced him to the game, he was hooked! He enjoyed playing other little league sports, but none could compete for his attention like the game of basketball.”
When asked about having a dual-gifted child, Karen replied, “Every parent believes that their child is gifted, and they are. Each child is unique in their own way. Evan happens to have a proclivity for mathematics and basketball. He is very cognizant of the fact that academics come first. That is why he works hard and plays hard on and off the court.”
The Breakout Season
When asked what was his initial impression of Evan Jester, first year Sandy Creek head basketball coach Anthony McKissic said, “Evan Jester was a well spoken young man. I met him at a team camp at Auburn University. He approached me and asked if I was going to be the new coach. He introduced himself to me and told me how much he enjoyed playing basketball. The first thing I thought when I saw Evan was that he had a great frame. I knew that if he was a representation of the caliber athlete at Sandy Creek then we were in line for a great season.”
When asked how he has grown and matured over the years, senior point guard and Gardener Webb University signee, Christian Turner, said, “He has mainly grown by just understanding more about the game. He also has a clear understanding of his skill level and knows what he can and can’t do right now.”
Coach McKissic added, “I think that with my tutelage Evan has really come out of his shell. He is like a beast that has been finally released from his cage taking havoc on opposing opponents. Last year he had a Tim Duncan style where he would lay the ball up on a fast break. This season I have seen Evan rise above multiple defenders and dunk on them. We call this getting a body. Evan has the confidence needed to lead this team to greater heights.”
Great coaching and training go hand in hand and that’s what Evan is getting from Coach McKissic and Director of Training and Player Development for BBall101, Dorian Lee.
“His knowledge of the game has increased tremendously. He has also learned that winning basketball games is a culmination of a lot of other things that may have nothing to do with basketball. This would be things like managing others emotions, learning how to treat people, and being a good representation of the coach outside of the school building. He has become more than just a leader on the team he is also a leader in the school and the Sandy Creek community,” added Coach McKissic.
A great amount of Evan’s success can be pointed to the commitment that his parents have made in investing in a basketball trainer. They chose the best trainer in Metro Atlanta, Dorian Lee of BBall101.
When asked why he chose Lee, Oscar said, “My cousin Melvin Ball recommended Dorian. Melvin spoke very highly of Dorian’s skill set and his genuine love for people. Dorian and I met for lunch and I immediately understood why my cousin was so impressed. My biggest takeaway from my initial lunch with Dorian was his desire to build the character of his clients. His clients are more like family members. Dorian teaches life skills, and he will give it to you straight every time.”
Evan was been training with Lee for two years now. When asked where he has seen the most improvement, Lee said, “His shot has improved tremendously, as well as his athleticism. He is definitely a more aggressive player, and it is showing on the basketball court.”
When asked what areas Evan need to improve, Lee said, “Ball handling and range must continue to improve. He has a great motor and just has to continue to hone his offensive skill set. He has an absolute nose for the ball. Wherever the ball is, his hands seem to find it!”
Oscar said, “Dorian’s training sessions opened Evan’s eyes to the hard work and discipline needed to compete at the next level. Dorian exposed Evan to the mental toughness needed to succeed on and off the basketball court. Dorian’s training is truly priceless.”
From training to the court
Evan averaged 9.7 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, 1.5 steals per game, and .8 assists per game. During the state playoffs, Evan stepped his game up, averaging 12.67 points and 9.5 rebounds. As a result of his performance on the basket court, he was selected to Second Team for the All-County Basketball Team.
Turner added, “It was good for him to be Second Team All-County. I’m extremely proud of him. Evan knows how good he can be and once he shows it he will easily be a first team guy.”
Math Team teammate, Russell Cooks, Jr. said, “Seeing Evan make Second Team All-County was pretty cool because that is just the beginning, as I know he’s going to do even bigger things this next season.”
Sandy Creek had record success this year in basketball. They won their first Region Championship in 13 years and also made it to the Elite 8.
When asked about his personal success and the success of the team, Evan said, “It was incredible going on that run with brothers. I am still upset that we came up short, but we still made things happen that most people in the state didn’t think was possible.”
Cooks added, “I’ve been watching Evan play for awhile now, but just over this last year is when I’ve seen his best development. I think over this past summer he gained a new confidence that took him to a new level in the game of basketball, as he became more dominant and assertive.”
In addition to his success on the basketball court, Evan has also enjoyed a great deal of success in the classroom and on the Math Team.
The mission of the Math Club is to promote the beauty and mystery of mathematics and to strive to solve challenging math problems not found in the regular classroom.
Ms. Marilyn Ellis, Math Team sponsor, said, “I think our math team is so large because we are about more than competitions. Our focus is three-fold. First we sponsor a peer ran Math Lab where the students can give back to their school by tutoring their peers. Second, some of our members represent the school in competitions. Third, we provide a place for them to be together with like-minded peers who enjoy doing out of the box math problems once a week during our team meetings.”
The Sandy Creek Math Team finished in the top three in four major competitions this school year, and Evan Jester has played an integral role in those victories. He has been a huge supporter of the math lab.
Armoni Cook said, “I love the math lab and the tutors, especially Evan Jester”
Kristopher James added, “I have met with great math tutors Russell Cooks and Evan Jester. I have enjoyed my experience expanding my knowledge. Even though math is hard, my experience in the math lab makes it a lot easier.”
When asked what kind of teammate Evan has been on the Math Team, Cooks replied, “Evan has become a helpful teammate on the Math Team, especially in the Math Lab. He always comes in to tutor the younger kids in several subjects. He is great addition to the team.”
Evan said, “The Math Team is something where I can compete doing my favorite subject with a group of friends and have fun with no strict restrictions holding me back, somewhere you can just do math without worrying and stressing over a grade.”
When asked what was future outlook for the Math Team, Alva McMillan, Math Team sponsor, said, “Each year we strive to excel at the math competitions, provide excellent peer tutoring, and increase student involvement. The math team members continue to be the shining stars of our math program, and Evan Jester is definitely one of our shining stars. I am proud to be a part of their academic growth and witness their development each year at Sandy Creek High School.”
Michelle Genovese, Math Team sponsor, added, “After knowing Evan Jester throughout his high school years, I have observed that he is kind, considerate, and dependable. He works hard to succeed in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. Evan Jester is always willing to help out if he can with a smile on his face. He is a joy to teach.”
When asked how he balanced the basketball work with the school work, Evan said, “It is pretty difficult, especially when we have 6:30 practices or two-a-days. However I just make sure I manage my time, so after practice I take a shower, grab something to eat, then hit the books.”
The Final Frontier
When asked how he feels about Evan going into his senior year next year, Oscar said, “I feel excited about his final year of high school. It gives me a sense of pride to watch him grow and develop into a well-rounded young man. I’m on an emotional roller coaster at times. There’s the sense of relief knowing that he will be on his own very soon, then there’s the sense of not wanting to let go just yet.”
Karen added, “The years have certainly flown by. I vividly remember his first day of school and how excited he was. It has definitely been an amazing journey seeing Evan mature into a young man. He has a promising future ahead and I am so very proud of him!”
Evan added, “It is crazy. It feels that just yesterday I was walking into Sandy Creek as a freshman. Now I am preparing to go into my senior year. I am a little nervous about finishing high school, but feel I am going to finish out strong.”
When asked what role Evan would play on next season’s basketball team, McKissic said, “Evan will be the face of the team. His loyalty to the program and his focus on academics is what I would like to see in all of my players. He is expected to be a huge contributor offensively and defensively. He is also a founding member of Lob City South, so we are expecting a lot of high flying alley oop dunks from him.”
When asked his goals for next basketball season, Evan said, “My goals are to make sure that I lead my team to not only win the region championship but win the state championship as well. I have to really step up as a leader so we can go even farther than we have ever before. I know that if I want to have a long and successful senior season that I am going to have to step up big and lead the younger guys in the right direction.”
When asked about academic goals, Evan replied, “My goals are to make sure I keep my GPA high and don’t slip up down the stretch to graduation.
When asked what Evan’s academic performance meant to the team, Coach McKissic, said, “Evan Jester is the standard that all my players strive to achieve. Having a player with a 4.0 GPA makes it easier on me to recruit him out to colleges. Our overall goal here at Sandy Creek is for all my players to earn scholarships to the next level. Having good grades makes that a lot easier.”
When asked what he will do this summer to prepare for your senior year academically and athletically, Evan replied, “Academically I will be studying for my AP Calculus class with a summer-long math packet. Athletically I will be working on my handles and shooting technique with Dorian Lee and working on getting bigger and stronger with my uncle.”
College Selection Process
Evan has been getting a lot of attention from the Ivy League Schools because of his basketball skills and academic success. When asked where would you like to see him go to college, Karen replied, “Although we will be involved in the process of selecting a college, Evan will ultimately decide where he will matriculate post-high school.”
“I like Cornell University. I’ve developed a pretty good relationship with coach Jon Jaques of Cornell. Evan is scheduled to attend Cornell’s elite camp on June 25. Ultimately Evan will make the final decision on which school he will attend based on his academic needs and how well he would fit into the school’s program,” added Oscar.
He’s been getting interest from a number of schools, including Cornell, Alcorn State, Gardner Webb, Brown, Princeton, and Virginia Military Institute.
When asked which colleges he is currently considering, Evan replied, “I am considering Cornell University and Alcorn State University.”
Coach McKissic sums Evan up best. “Evan has a kind heart. He is the kind of person that would give his lunch to a fellow student in the cafeteria if he found out they were hungry. He is just that kind of guy. His character stands taller than his athletic ability and his academic achievements, and that’s pretty hard to do.”