Evan French has had his hands full this summer.
Of basketballs, mostly.
The senior-to-be at Warren High is coming off a Division II first team All-Ohio campaign on the hardwood for the Warriors and is doing all he can to stay sharp and improve his game this off-season.
Photo courtesy of Robin Pannell
Warren’s Evan French (25) goes in for a layup against Fort Frye during a boys’ basketball game last winter.
"It's been really good," French said. "I've been going to all these shootouts and participated in these tournaments. It's a busy schedule, but that's what you look forward to as a basketball player."
Earlier this week, French competed in the National High School Basketball Coaches Association Rising Senior hoops tournament at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis.
The tourney pitted top players from the states of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky against each other in a round-robin competition.
French was a top contributor for the Norm Pierson coached-Ohio team that went 5-0 and won the tourney. French scored in double figures in each of the team's last four games.
"Evan shot the ball extremely well," said Pierson, who coaches at Oak Hill High during the winter.
"He was very steady and played very well. He did a lot of things for us."
Pierson said French may have dealt with some nerves in Team Ohio's opening game, but was able to put that aside the rest of the event and have a productive tournament.
"I pulled him over and said 'You're a good player, you just need to be confident,'" Pierson said. "Once he got going, he played great. We ran sets for him and our offense actually went through him at times."
Warren head coach Blane Maddox was in attendance to see his top scorer from a year ago go up against the best of the best.
"Evan played great," Maddox said. "He shot lights out.
"What a great experience for him. The competition in Indiana is some of the best competition I've seen. His confidence will not be a problem. I'm happy for him. It's great to see a local player on a big-time stage."
French helped lead Warren to its first ever district and regional title this season before bowing out against St. Vincent-St. Mary in the "Final Four."
The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is doing everything he can this summer to make sure he's at the top of his game and in a position to help lead the royal blue and white to another state tournament run.
"It was really enjoyable," French said of the NHSBCA Rising Senior event. "We played against five different states and everyone brought top competition.
"There were also speakers there who talked about different aspects of life and different aspects of the game."
In typical French form, he gave most of the credit for his success to his teammates.
"I was able to spot up. We had really good post play and some really good guards," French remarked. "I was able to hover around the 3-point line and just hit open jump shots."
Pierson said when it came time to pick players for the team, French was a no-brainer. "When you're picking, you've got to have different types of kids," Pierson said. "We felt like he would be a kid that would be dependable and do the little things for us.
"He grasped everything I said and listened to everything we told him. He's a super kid and a lot of fun to coach."
French's summer didn't stop in Indiana, however.
For the second year in a row, he will be packing his bags and heading to Las Vegas to compete in an all-star tournament. Last summer, playing ball in Vegas benefited French greatly when the regular season rolled around.
"It had a pretty big impact going up against all that competition," he said. "It gave me a different feel of the game."
French is hoping the experience again translates into results on the floor during the season.
According to Maddox, French's teammates Reece Patton and Michael Hall have also been hitting up tournaments this summer and gaining experience.
All in all, the summer of 2013 could be the first step in yet another successful Warren Warrior basketball campaign.