Evan Flaks, who led the Pikesville boys' basketball team to an appearance in the state playoffs, was named the U.S. Army Impact Player of the Month.
Flaks, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, was nominated for the award by Pikesville head basketball coach Bear Jackson.
"Evan has the mindset of a much older player," Jackson said. "Even if Evan is small in stature, he has a big heart and he plays the game with such fervency that just allows him to set himself apart from other players."
"He's always had this mindset of, ‘Even though I'm small, I believe I can go Division I if I put forth the effort,'" Jackson added. "Ever since I've known him … that's where his drive has been. His drive has been, ‘I've got this goal up in my mind of Division I basketball, and that's what I'm working toward.'"
Flaks helped direct the Panthers to a 15-8 regular-season record and the No. 2 seed in the 1A North region of the MPSSAA playoffs. Flaks has point guard skills, but he played primarily off the ball this year with Pikesville having a senior point guard on the roster.
Jackson described Flaks as a three-level scorer who can shoot the three, hit runners and floaters and get to the rim with his left or right hand. Jackson said Flaks' work ethic -- he's made a habit of heading to the gym in the morning and before practice to get shots up -- has gotten him to this point.
A strong work ethic has also allowed Flaks to succeed in the classroom. Flaks is carrying a 4.0 GPA at Pikesville.
"My parents from a young age just always taught me that school comes first, and if my grades are right, anything can happen, and that's also a big part of making it to the next level," said Flaks, who is considering studying engineering and math in college. "I can be however good I am at basketball, but if my grades aren't right, I can't play college basketball, so I've got to make sure that's squared away first and then I can worry about playing."
Starting in the summer heading into his freshman year at Pikesville, Flaks has been coached by Jackson in AAU ball as well. Flaks plays for Team Bear, an independent program. Flaks considers Jackson to be like family, and he credits Jackson with helping him get stronger and develop his skills to a point that he could play on the varsity squad as a freshman at Pikesville.
Flaks' development has also allowed him to play internationally. Flaks, who plays for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore hoops team, was noticed at the JCC Maccabi Games and Artsfest in Birmingham, Ala., during the summer of 2017. He was encouraged to send his game film -- and recommendations on his behalf -- in order to be considered for the United States' entry into the International Maccabi Youth Games in Israel the following summer.
Flaks eventually made the team. His team worked out in New Jersey for about a week, then had a few practices in Israel before competition began. Other teams included Argentina, Israel, Canada and Great Britain. The U.S. beat Israel for the gold medal.
"It was really cool, it was awesome," Flaks said of the gold medal game. "It was a great experience because there were fans ... [from] all these countries in the stands cheering for us. It was really cool."
Flaks considered playing internationally again this coming summer, but he decided to stay home, play for his AAU team and work out in preparation for his junior year.
"He is a total package," Jackson said. "And his demeanor and his mindset -- you never see Evan frustrated or arguing with a call or arguing with another player. You don't see it. His demeanor is total focus on basketball and what it takes for me to help my team be successful, period." •