In the last month, Sean Evans (203-PF-1988, college: St.John’s) basketball life has turned a severe 180 degrees in which he had to be very mentally tough as he experienced so many things. I bet there are countless players who wonder what it would be like about writing a book about their whole career, but I could imagine when the 21-22 season is finally over 33 year old warrior Sean Evans might even contemplate writing a book. I remember talking to him shortly before Christmas 2021 and he was so excited and elated about his team and season with SC Prometey Kamianske (Ukraine-Superleague) as they were riding an undefeated season. But little did he know that things would change drastically. If I would have had some incredible fortune telling abilities and told him he would be in Germany playing for top team ratiopharm Ulm a few months later, he would of probably hung the phone up on me and yelled, ‘what you smoking man’. ‘I would not have believed it because my goals were set on winning a basketball champions leagues title and another Ukrainian league title so to hear I would be in Germany would be hard to believe. Life comes at you fast and the way everything got flipped upside down is crazy I don’t think anyone could of predicted this with the war’, stressed Sean Evans. He experienced how war was approaching to the Ukraine, then fled the country with his club to the Czech Republic to train exclusively for the Basketball Champions League until the league was cancelled. His big dream of possibly wining the double in the Ukraine was harshly squashed, but not for long as he followed other teammates and joined a new team with ratiopharm Ulm. He didn’t need long to come up with the perfect title for his book. ‘I would name it ‘I couldn’t imagine ‘ And it would be crazy it would be about all the things I could not imagine happening that happened to me and my teammates, my team and the people of the Ukraine this season’, stressed Sean Evans.
Let’s back track a bit back to before war had broken out in the Ukraine on Feb 24th. The American from Philadelphia was struck with a tough injury and was out almost two months. In that time, he had a lot of time to really feel the tension growing in the Ukraine. ‘We heard rumblings about there being a possibly of war early but didn’t really pay any real mind to it’, remembered Sean Evans. His last game he played before war broke out was one that he will never forget. It wasn’t just a blow out against Chersaky, but a mega blow out of 60 points. ‘That game against Cherkasy was actually my first real game back. It was a fun game: Everybody was clicking and making shots ,guarding and flying up and down the court and it was a great game to be a part of but you’re right I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a professional team where we won a game by 60 points’, stressed Sean Evans. He played 21 minutes and contributed 12 points, 4 boards and 3 steals. But on the next day Valentines day, his basketball life would take a severe turn. The club was feeling that war was drawing nearer and that the Ukrainian Super League would be in danger of being completed. But they were still in the Basketball Champions League competition and at least there could still be alive of winning a title. They could play their games on neutral ground. They departed the Ukraine on Feb 14 to go to the Czech Republic. From then on his temporary home would be the Czech Republic. They even played a game against Romanian team Cluj Napoca losing 92-81 where he steered 10 points in 19 minutes. But that would be his last game with the organization. With the war in full swing, the club decided it was best to withdraw of the Basketball Champions League and give their full attention and resources to their home land. ‘We got the news about the situation with the team closing down. It was kind of crazy and shocking to us all. We didn’t see it coming and now our special season is officially over as far as us being a team together’, said Sean Evans. It is difficult to imagine how tough it must be for a competitor to have to throw away such a special season. ‘It’s very disappointing very disappointing that we had to withdraw from basketball champions league. We had a very special group, a very close knit team and very experienced. We were having an amazing season and we had high expectations. I believe we’re going to go far in basketball champions league. We were two wins away from advancing to the top eight so it was tough to see it all get taken away from us’, stressed Sean Evans.
The forward who sees NBA player and NCAA champion Kemba Walker as his toughest foe in school wasn’t even in the Ukraine when war broke out, but actually back home. ‘We had a break in the season so all of the foreign players went home so I’ll actually was back in the states when the war officially started. What was going through my mind was sadness for my teammates sadness for my team and their families. You know the Ukrainian people in general I feel for the whole country that was so good to me the past 2 seasons. It was a very crazy day when the news broke’, remembered Sean Evans. He was never in the war zone when it broke ship, but still any guy could have been freaked out. He was able to keep a level and calm head. ‘The thing about it is I never feared for my safety when I was in the Ukraine or when we moved to the Czech Republic. I always felt safe and they did a very good job of taking care of us when it came to that situation and as far as how I think about war now it’s kind of crazy to think about it because you never expect to be so close and almost hands on with the war and to be so close to it just put things in perspective of how fast things can change’, warned Sean Evans. Most Americans got out of the Ukraine before the war started, but there were also other guys like Mike Caffey and Maurice Creek who stayed, but thankfully got out, but had interesting and challenging ways to get out. ‘Our team took very good care of us and got us out of there a lot faster than most teams but I did reach out to Maurice Creek who was stuck in the Ukraine for a long time. I just let him know that he had my assistance in anyway he needed it and told him he can reach out to me if he needed anything’, commented Sean Evans.
When times get tough like having an injury or when you’re a rookie getting over homesickness or not having a local Mcdonalds, you can always need teammates who can sooth you and get you past the rough stretches. But how must it be feel like when a country is close to war and you’re an American? But with the team Promety, the closeness of the teammates was already there early on which helped them be so successful. ‘I’m very close with my American teammates. I don’t think the war brought us closer or further apart, but I think we always had a close team. We all enjoyed each other’s company so I think everything stayed solid throughout the whole process’, remembered Sean Evans. It sometimes seems like a cliche that Americans only mingle among themselves, but over the years I have heard from many Americans that they can form long lasting relationships with players from other countries. Maybe 10-15 years ago, Americans stayed with each other more, but now in 2022, clubs are united and have so many different nationalities that guys have found together better. ‘It’s typical that Americans stay with the Americans and locals stay with the locals but that wasn’t the case with this team. This is one of the best teams I’ve been on as far as the team itself and the people. We had a great locker room where everyone got along with everyone. Every one hung out with everyone. It was a very very special team that’s why It’s so sad to see it go out like this’, expressed Sean Evans. In the weeks leading up to war, the American could sense the fear and worry among his Ukrainian teammates. He has only admiration for how they were able to deal with the tough situation. ‘I think naturally it brought us a little bit closer because I felt for them and it was impressive to see how strong they were through the process being able to continue to come to practice continue to play games when some of their families ,wife’s ,kids were stuck in a country that was in war and at the moment they didn’t know when they will see them again so my respect for them grew even more because being able to continue to do this shows a different type of toughness which I’m not sure everyone has’, warned Sean Evans.
The American who balled at St Johns (NCAA) and was 2-3 inches away from the NBA saw so much hardship in the last weeks and it could have been more than understandable that the whole turmoil would have affected him mentally, but just like on the court, he has been a rock. ‘I am fine with it mentally. I’m more concerned with my teammates that are from Ukraine that are missing their families their homes and don’t know when they will return that’s what’s on my mind it’s not about my mental health, but it is more about their’s. I think about them a lot’, warned Sean Evans. He has been able to stay cool, but how must it have been for his loved one’s back home who must have been glued to CNN 24/7. ‘I think sometimes it is worse on them than it is me being in a situation because they don’t really know how I’m being treated and if things are OK. They can only go off what they see on the news and things like this and sometimes the news isn’t the actual picture of what’s going on so I can understand how it’s hard for them’, replied Sean Evans. It is only understandable with all the turbulence that he has seen recently in the Ukraine, that he doesn’t wake up every morning with the same views on life. ‘The last couple of years have been definitely tough and different times it definitely makes you look at life different and like I said before you have to realize how fast things can change and never take things for granted that’s what I’ve learned this past couple years’, stressed Sean Evans.
The American who has played over 300 professional games in countries like Korea, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Argentina, and Macedonia season isn’t over. It will continue in Germany with ratiopharm Ulm. Even with war effecting the world now, he can’t just hang his head in the sand like an ostrich. Life goes on and he is still playing basketball at a high level and has to feed his family. Something like this horrible war in the Ukraine won’t make him shun Europe from continuing to play the game he loves. ‘ I don’t think something like this with war normally happens. I always do my homework on whatever team I join but you cannot predict something like this’, said Sean Evans. Many guys who played in the Ukraine have found new teams to close out the season. He had the opportunity to do special things with Promety and with new team ratiopharm Ulm could do the same. They could be a team that could make a run in the playoffs as teams might not have them on the radar as much. ‘To be able to go from one great team to another is for-sure a blessing and it gives me the opportunity to continue somewhat towards my goals of winning another title I’m excited to join the team excited to meet the fans and do what it takes to help reach the top of the mountain’, warned Sean Evans. He was parts of two fruitful seasons in the Ukraine and he will never forget his time there. The connection with everyone that he had contact with will always be with him. ‘I’ve definitely made bonds with a lot of different people from teammates to drivers to coaches chefs, fans , Front office. You name it. I’ve made a connection with these people the past 2 seasons so to see the team go like it did is definitely sad because we built something really good here and to see it go away like that and to not know when you might see some of these people again if ever is definitely a difficult situation to deal with’, stated Sean Evans. Everyday when he wakes up in Germany, Sean Evans will have the Ukraine in his thoughts. ‘To all the people of Ukraine I will keep you in my prayers I continue to think about you all the time. Continue to stay strong you will get through this and be stronger for it. And to the fans of the team I hope we will meet again we will miss you filling up the arena cheering us on. I hope to return the team to the top spot one day where it rightfully belongs thank you for everything. Until we meet again’, warned Sean Evans. The people of the Ukraine will always be in the heart of Sean Evans.