By Daniel Dullum
Evan Quiroz admitted he’d never heard of Midland University when he began searching for the next stop of his basketball career.
But that’s where the Apache Junction High graduate is headed for the next four years.
Quiroz recently signed his national letter of intent to play men’s basketball at the NAIA Division II school in eastern Nebraska.
Quiroz said he spoke to “about five or six” colleges before deciding on Midland.
“A couple of coaches weren’t super-motivated to recruit me,” Quiroz said of the recruiting process. [Midland] found me through an online recruiting site. I talked to a couple of the coaches, and it went from there.”
Based in Fremont, NE, Midland’s Warriors were 16-14 overall, 6-12 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
“They liked the way I played the game and liked that I showed a lot of hustle,” Quiroz said. “Also Coach [Scott] Stansberry has always had my back over the last few years, and I’m pretty sure they talked to him.”
Quiroz was named to the AIA’s all-4A boys basketball second team in 2017-18. Earlier, Quiroz was named as Black Canyon Region player of the year and repeated as the region’s offensive player of the year.
Quiroz drained 76 3-pointers (35 percent) in his senior season and wound up with 195 for his career, along with 1,308 career points. In the 2017-18 season, he scored 489 points (18.1 per game), sank 89 of 115 free throws (77 percent) and averaged 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
As a junior, Quiroz was third in 4A scoring, ninth in the state, at 24.2 points per game. He was also named to the all-Black Canyon Region first team.
“Coaching Evan was great,” Stansberry, now coaching at Mesa High, said. “Evan was a scoring machine. When we needed a bucket, he got it. He would score 32, 36 points, and I didn’t realize he scored that many until I looked at the book afterwards.
“He always played bigger than his size (5-foot-11), and he’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve seen here at AJ.
“Evan is very quick, and with his speed, he can play defense with anybody. I think he’ll be fine at Midland.”
Stansberry called Quiroz “an ultimate competitor,” adding, “I knew Evan could score; he could go on a 10-0 run by himself. He would hit NBA-type 3-pointers; I let him work on them because he could make them.
“Midland is really going to like the way he competes,” Stansberry continued. “One thing I’m proud of: Evan dealt with a lot of off-court personal things and still showed up at practice, ready to play. He’s tough, and to still be able to play and lead us with all he was dealing with, was remarkable.”
Quiroz looks forward to meeting his new teammates, saying, “When I get to practice, I’ll have a chance for them to know me as a player. I love a good challenge, I’ve had to do that my whole life, whether its basketball, school, personal issues, whatever. I’m up for it.”
Quiroz said he received a $17,500 per year scholarship to play at Midland and plans to pursue a degree in computer engineering.
“Keep your eye on Midland. There’s a link to watch our games online.”
Admitting that winters in Nebraska will be a bit colder than the Valley, Quiroz said, “I’ll get used to it. Just put on some more clothes!”
Photo above: Evan Quiroz (10) of Apache Junction, the 2017-18 4A Black Canyon Region player of the year, signed to play basketball at Midland University (Neb.). (File photo)