Sean Evans finished his St. John's basketball career as a true all-timer.
Aside from averaging 22 points, he twice earned first team All-America honors and thrice was named to the elite squad after the Big East Conference tournament.
Oh, and he led the Red Storm to a national championship.
Sound outrageous? Would a page in a media guide lie?
An altered one taken from a media guide would. Well, not lie as much as predict.
"I was laughing as soon as I saw it," Evans said. "It looked good. They had my name [and 'accomplishments'] at the bottom of a list of all their great players. You could tell they put it on there digitally."
Evans, a 6-7, 225-pound senior forward at Northeast High, indeed will play for St. John's.
He held a news conference yesterday in a meeting room at his school, accompanied by his mother, coaches Elsa Cohen (Northeast) and Howard Griffith (AAU), school administrators, regular schoolmates and maybe a dozen teammates from hoops and football, in which he also starred.
The start was delayed by two late arrivals, but there was available entertainment value in the interim by watching a girl pour a peanut M & M out of the bag, then seeing it bounce/roll across the table. Two guys reached out - they were too embarrassed to stand up, assumedly - and tried to grab it, but it fell off the other side as everyone laughed.
Evans said he picked St. John's, his only official visit, because of the players, coaches and campus, and that walking him through Madison Square Garden, where the team plays its Big East home games, "kinda helped out a lot."
He later expanded.
"First they showed me the court," he said. "Then they took me to the Knicks' locker room, then the Rangers' locker room, then the locker room St. John's uses . . . They even showed me the dressing room used by the music celebrities. They had pictures all over the wall. From Jay-Z to the Rolling Stones."
Much as a rolling stone gathers no moss, Evans did no dillydallying.
La Salle, Temple, St. Bonaventure, Miami and Nebraska also pushed hard, but he'd seen all but Nebraska on unofficial visits and felt positive enough about the St. John's vibrations to not muddle his mind.
"When I felt it . . . I jumped on it," he said.
Evans tugged on a St. John's T-shirt over a white shirt and red tie early in the proceedings, then signed his scholarship papers with his mom, Leshia, after the formal questions/answers.
As a defensive lineman, Evans earned first team Daily News All-City honors and there were those who pictured him as someone who could have reached the NFL. He was a second team basketball honoree, and his potential in that sport is also vast.
Evans originally planned to attend prep school for a year, both to add more basketball polish and improve his study habits. However, he will graduate with 14 core subjects and a new NCAA rule will require 16 for Division I for the 2008-09 school year. Only one can be earned beyond a student's fourth year in high school.
With that in mind, and with strong assistance from Dan Williams, the School District's NCAA Compliance Director, Evans pushed hard to become qualified for freshman eligibility.
While first deciding what sport to pursue, Evans mostly listened to guidance from those who knew him before athletics became such a major part of his life.
"It was real hard picking between two sports that you love," he said. "But you have to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, or at least your college career. Basketball was where my heart was. I followed my heart . . . If I work hard, I feel I can do whatever I want."
Among the attendees was Northeast's former principal, Kelly Barton, who received a special invite from Evans.
"Sean was like a lot of kids," Barton said afterward. "He was never a problem, but you ask yourself, 'Is he ever going to get it? Is the lightbulb ever going to go on?' Then . . . " He motioned toward Evans with obvious pride. "There he is. He has become such a special kid."
After thanking all who had helped, Mom echoed that.
"Today is the most proud I think I've ever been . . . And I'm not going to cry . . . And I love my son." *