As a top-notch athlete steers his or her way toward college, the question of preference is usually: Which school?

For Sean Evans, however, there was always an added inquiry: Which sport?

A basketball and football prodigy at Northeast High, Evans announced his choices yesterday at a news conference. The verdicts were hoops and St. John's University.

A 6-foot-7 forward, Evans said basketball took over as his sport of preference once he finished an eye-opening football season and moved indoors.

"In the back of my mind, I always thought it was going to be basketball," said Evans, a first-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania defensive end. "But when you're playing a sport, you feel like this is what I want to do."

Because Evans split time between the two endeavors, there is the belief that he hasn't fully tapped into his reserve. Some evaluators felt football was his best bet. Others went with basketball.

"You get it from both sides," Evans said. "You have the people that want you to play football that [are] going to tell you that's where your brightest future is. Then you have basketball - that's where your brightest future is. I kind of met people that [were] in the middle."

Even though Evans had at one point settled on basketball, he wasn't sure if he was going to accept a scholarship offer or enroll for a year of prep school to improve his academic and athletic development. But a recent NCAA ruling designed to curtail the practice of using prep school to correct transcript deficiencies meant Evans had almost no choice.

"I thought I was going to prep a year and then come out," Evans said. "But the rule meant there was no way I could do that."

Evans, though, is on track to qualify. He just needs to successfully complete three core courses.

With his sport of choice set, prep school out the window, and his grades in order, Evans still had to select from a list of colleges.

St. John's won out over the likes of Miami, Nebraska, La Salle, Temple and St. Bonaventure, especially after the 18-year-old paid an official visit - one that included a trip to Madison Square Garden - to New York last Tuesday.

"When I went to visit St. John's, it felt right," said Evans, who had football offers from Temple, West Virginia and Syracuse. "The coaches, the players, the campus, everything."

Everything except a football team.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane

at 215-854-4745

or jmclane@phillynews.com.