With a full transition to the mound under his belt, Great Lake Canadians right-hander Evan Wilcox set off in the early months of the winter to take his newfound talent to college, and after narrowing down his choices and sending an unrelenting number of emails to the schools of his choice, he found the perfect spot at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.
After a visit to the campus, an introduction to the program, and a conversation with his parents Dave and Heidi, Wilcox made his commitment to the Cougars official on Monday.
“I was emailing a few schools that I was interested in at the [junior college] level,” the native of London said. “I got a response back from [South Mountain], and I talked to [GLC pitching coordinator and director of college placement Adam] Arnold and he thought it was a good idea for me to go check it out. So I went down there, and I was really impressed with the program and all the coaches there, and I made my commitment official [Monday].”
Pounding the proverbial pavement on a regular basis, Wilcox filled several inboxes en route to gleaning a response from the schools he was most interested in, eventually securing multiple visits, and making his decision.
“South Mountain didn’t see me until I went there,” the 19-year-old hurler said. “Definitely sending a bunch of emails [helped] because half the time they don’t read them or see them or whatever. I was pretty relentless with sending emails.”
Wilcox and his parents flew to Arizona in late April, where they soaked in the sunshine, enjoyed the landscape, and went to a number of campuses. They were especially impressed with everything the Cougars had to offer.
“It was beautiful there,” Wilcox said. “The facilities were gorgeous, it was a great area, picturesque with all the mountains and the palm trees, but the people were definitely what really drew me into South Mountain. I just get really at home with the program and the coaches.”
“I got to meet most of the coaches when I was there – they were all checking me out, and I went down and threw a bullpen in front of them, just 30 pitches, and it went really well. I was up to 91 [miles an hour], and it was a good experience.”
After completing the transition to the mound and getting a strong off-season under his belt, Wilcox is happily settled into life as a pitcher, and can’t wait to spend even more time on the hill.
“I love it,” he said. “There’s just something to be said about throwing things really hard – and it’s definitely not just that. I’m starting to learn that it’s a lot about trying to trick the batter, and just so much goes into pitching other than throwing hard, but I love it so far. I’m about five months into being solely a pitcher] and I’m learning a lot. There’s still a lot to learn but I am loving it.”
What has helped Wilcox the most on his journey to pitching, and on his way to Phoenix has been his time with the Canadians program and its coaching staff, something he is incredibly grateful for.
“The coaches are just amazing with GLC,” the righty said. “Honestly I don’t think you could find better coaches anywhere, Canada or Stateside, that help develop you like they do. I’ve had [Arnold] with the pitching side, and he’s done a great job teaching me that it’s not all about velocity, and helping with my mechanics. And before I was a pitcher, with [Adam] Stern and Chris [Robinson] and all the guys, they really helped me out.
“I can’t say enough good stuff about the coaches here, and I can’t even explain how much I’ve grown over the year-and-a-half that I’ve been here. I’ve grown a lot, athletically and physically. I think that really has to do with the coaches. It’s been a good ride with GLC.”
On the hill, Wilcox has embraced the tutelage of Great Lake’s pitching coordinator, who has helped the young player transition from thrower to pitcher in a relatively short time.
“He’s taken to the mound well, with his athleticism and arm action,” Arnold said. “He continues to refine his actions throughout his delivery, giving him the best chance to stay consistent and find success.”
Added Wilcox: “[Arnold] teaching me how to pitch is the biggest thing I’m going to take with me. It’s not just being able to throw 90-plus – you’re not going to get much success down there if you can’t pitch with that, so Arnie and the coaching staff have really helped me with trying to learn to pitch instead of just throwing the ball as hard as I can. That will really help me down there.”
Looking forward to the opportunity that the Cougars will provide for Wilcox to get outside on the diamond every single day, the right-hander is excited for his last season in the Canadian Premier Baseball League with his teammates, hoping for another championship before he heads to Arizona.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “We just started the season, so we’ve got about three more months and I’m really excited to see how it progresses. The guys have looked really good so far, and it’s a really tight group, which is nice. It’s almost like last year when we won the CPBL championship, so I’m really excited for this year.”
And beyond his time with the Canadians, the staff and organization are looking forward to seeing what more Wilcox can do in the junior college circuit.
“He is going to offer the potential to be an impact arm at that level, with a fastball that runs up to 91 [miles an hour] and sits in that high-80s mix,” Arnold said. “His secondary stuff shows flashes of being strong offerings. He’s anxious to learn, shows strong leadership and work ethic, and has a plan to succeed and push for that next opportunity.”