In the years since founding the Rising Stars Youth Foundation, Paul Savramis has seen countless talented players come and go. The ones he remembers best are not the best on the court, it’s the ones that were special off it. These are special individuals, many of which Savramis trained and coached personally. Many of Rising Stars’ coaches and executive staff were individuals that began as team members as early as grade 3 and now are back to support Rising Stars. Some have children of their own on teams.
But all share a common bond and remember Rising Stars as being among the best times of their lives. Sometimes, basketball remains a part of their life, as is the case with Evan Conti.
Q: Who is Evan Conti?
Paul Savramis: Evan Conti is a perfect example of everything we strive to do at Rising Stars. He has been a part of the Rising Stars family since he was in third grade. He was a recipient of the Dan Gimpel Sr. Memorial scholarship and played for Dan Gimpel (Jr.) during his time as an athlete with Rising Stars.
Q: What makes Conti stand out?
Paul Savramis: Most recently, Evan made news when he was appointed as the head coach for the NYIT men’s basketball team. He is actually the youngest head basketball coach in the US. Evan came on as an assistant coach with NYIT for the 2018/19 season. When Kevin Hamilton left the team, Evan was assigned the role of assistant coach. At the end of the season, Dan Velez, the school’s athletic director, with the support of the entire team made the decision to keep Conti on permanently.
Q: What are some highlights of Conti’s basketball career?
Paul Savramis: Evan played ball for Holy Cross High School in Queens. During his time there, he scored 1120 points and is ranked fifth all-time in scoring.
He was an all league player in HS and received a scholarship for basketball at Quinnipiac University. Prior to college he was also the captain of a Rising Stars team that was ranked nationally. Following college Evan played professionally in three different Israeli clubs. In four seasons, he actively participated in 121 games.
Q: How do you think Conti’s story resonates with current RSYF athletes?
Paul Savramis: Evan was what every Rising Stars player can aspire to be. He was not overly tall or exceptionally skilled in any one area yet he consistently excelled over the “ranked players” and rose to the top with hard work and dedication to succeed. He is an inspiration and a shining example of how great things happen to those athletes who put work into their sports.
Evan did not get to where he wanted to go by accident, and I think he is a real role model for today’s youth. He is also a great mentor that communicates well with younger players. We had him coach our younger teams when he was still in HS and always puts a relatable face to many of our families and students’ own goals.