VINCENT - Evan French first picked up a basketball at the age of three. He realized he had some talent in middle school.
Now, entering his senior season at Warren High School, French has decided to continue his basketball career at the collegiate level. He signed a National Letter of Intent to play at West Liberty University (W. Va.) Thursday inside the high school gym.
"It means a lot," French said. "It's really exciting. It's been one of my dreams since I was a kid. It's really exciting to turn that dream into a reality."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Warren senior Evan French, center (sitting) signs a National Letter of Intent to continue his education and basketball play at West Liberty University in Warrior gym Thursday. Also pictured sitting, left to right, are Jennifer French (mother) and Roger French (father). Standing, left to right, are Roger Cunningham, Warren AD Debbie Proctor, and Warren boys head basketball coach Blane Maddox.
Warren head coach Blane Maddox was glad to see a player he's helped develop commit to compete at the next level.
"It means a lot to see him get to accomplish what he's set out to do," Maddox said.
Maddox described French as "a smart player. He's competitive. He stays calm at all times. Just his ability to score when you need it with the best defenders on him. It's just a great luxury to have a guy who can put up 20, 30 or 40 on any night."
Last season, French led the Warriors with an average of just under 20 points per game. After helping the team claim its first ever district and regional championships, French was rewarded by being named Division II first team All-Ohio. It was the first time a Warren player has ever been named first team all-state.
For this winter, French and his teammates have set their sights on getting back to the Schottenstein Center in Columbus for the state tournament.
"The team goals are the same," French said. "We're working hard every day to try to make it back to state."
French believes having his college decision out of the way will be beneficial once the regular season tips off on Dec. 3.
"It'll be good to go into the season without any distractions and just focus on high school basketball," he said.
By committing to West Liberty, French will be going from one basketball powerhouse to another. While Warren posted a 27-2 record and made it to the Final Four last season, West Liberty went 34-2 en route to winning the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and making the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division II national tournament. Needless to say, French is looking forward to being a Hilltopper.
"I really like Coach (Jim) Crutchfield and everything about the program," French said. "The campus is nice. The school is really nice. Just everything about it is what I was looking for in a college."
French said he visited "four or five " Division II and III schools, but in the end decided that "West Liberty just had more to offer than all the other schools."
Maddox expects French to fit right in with the Hilltoppers' style of play.
"I see him running up and down the court shooting a lot of 3s," Maddox said. "They love to shoot the 3. I think it's a great fit for him. He'll improve every year is what I told the coach. He'll get better every year and they'll be glad they made that decision."
French agreed and added "They're an up and down team. A lot of press. I really like that kind of game. High-tempo style."
French plans on majoring in either secondary education or exercise physiology.