ST. BONAVENTURE — For the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, nearly everything now is magnified.

The Bonnies held their first official practice for their most anticipated season in nearly 50 years on Sept. 28 -- with a 13-scholarship player roster, including seven eligible newcomers and former Binghamton prep star Brett Rumpel, who’s expected to redshirt this season. They named their captains for the coming campaign, announcing all five seniors in that role, on Wednesday, and earlier that day checked in at No. 8 of 8 on national analyst Andy Katz’s list of dark horse candidates for the Final Four -- not just as a sleeper team, but an actual contender for the biggest prize in the sport.

Yes, as Bona closes in on 2021-22, the buzz is as boisterous as it’s ever been.

Throughout it all, however, it’s continued to methodically plug away, building both for this winter and the future. In the latest such instance, it grabbed its first commitment for next season … and from a familiar location.

BARRY Evans, a 6-foot-8 small forward from Baltimore, has made a verbal pledge to join coach Mark Schmidt’s program, he announced in a social media post with the caption “110% committed” on Tuesday. Evans matured into a top-tier Maryland-area player as a junior at Oakland Mills in Columbia, Md., before transferring to state power Poly as a senior in 2020-21. This winter, he’ll play a prep year at Putnam Science Academy, continuing a well-established pipeline to the Connecticut-based program, which has produced current star seniors Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi and short-lived Bonnie Justin Winston, and where Schmidt’s son and former Olean High star Nick is now an assistant coach.

Evans had a breakout junior campaign in 2019-20, averaging 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block per game while garnering First Team All-District honors and leading Oakland Mills to the state playoffs before the pandemic shut down the season. He then transferred to Baltimore Poly, which was ranked No. 33 nationally entering last year by one outlet, but apparently never got to play after the Baltimore City Public School season was canceled due to COVID-19.

Evans rose higher into the recruiting picture after a standout performance at the Peach Jam with Team Melo in June. He reportedly chose to play the extra year at Putnam due to his lost 2020-21 campaign. Ultimately, he chose the Bonnies among a list of 10 Division I offers, including from fellow A-10 program UMass, North Texas, FIU, Towson and NJIT, according to verbalcommits.com.

The Baltimore native is certainly of the likeness of a typical Schmidt recruit, a long, rangy (6-foot-8, 200 pounds) prospect with plenty of bounce and athleticism. He’s been described by multiple outlets as a “positionless” player due to being 6-8 and having a strong handle and faceup ability, making him capable of playing and guarding multiple spots, a quality the Bona staff has long coveted.

He was expected to be a key player last winter at Poly, which had won three-straight Maryland Class 3A championships and was vying for a fourth in 2020 before his arrival over the offseason.

Evans, who will be able to sign a National Letter of Intent next month, is the first player in the Bonnies’ 2022 recruiting class. As it stands, he’d join a Bona squad that could potentially bring all eight of its bench players back next season and would be one two freshmen on the squad, alongside the redshirt Rumpel. In that scenario, Bona would still have four more available scholarships for the 2022-23 season.

Evans will have years of eligibility with the Bonnies beginning in the winter of ‘22.

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