is a great example of how a player that was not ready for the NBA after declaring for early entry can improve his skills dramatically overseas through heavy playing time at a high level of competition. Evans plays for Benetton Treviso, one of the top teams in Europe and was named the best player in Italy this year by Eurobasket.com after averaging a 19 points and 4.5 rebounds a game in Italy and 17 points, 4 rebounds a game in the Euroleague.
Evans started off his NCAA career by playing two seasons of junior college at Wichita State and then transferred to Texas in the Big 12. After one good season (2001) averaging 15.5 points and 5 rebounds he hired an agent and declared for the draft back when it wasn't such fashionable or accepted thing to do. He went undrafted in one of the craziest drafts of all time despite being considered one of the most athletic players in the country. His problem back then was that he simply relied on his freakish athleticism too much; his ball-handling and perimeter shooting just weren't up to par with the rest of his game. After going undrafted he was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves for the season after a good summer league campaign but did not see much playing time that year and was waived next year right before the 2002-03 season kicked off after already making the team through summer league. He was signed by Olympiakos Pierus and had a great rookie season in Greece and the Euroleague. From there he again tried his luck with the NBA via summer league, this time with the Washington Wizards, but they were already too stacked at his position with Hughes, Stackhouse and Dixon and he was one of the last players cut. He signed with Benetton Treviso in Italy and had a fantastic season as noted above. He is currently trying out once again with the Wizards this summer, his fourth summer league campaign in a row.Strengths and Weaknesses: 158
Evans is most likely the most athletic player in Europe today, bar none. He has great quickness, a superb first step and a jaw dropping vertical leap that has put him on many highlight reels both in Europe and in the NCAA. He is built extremely well with an impressive NBA body, and has excellent body control which he uses along with his strength to finish powerfully at the hoop. He is a tough, hard nosed player that is not afraid of mixing it up and has no problem driving with reckless abandon looking to finish with contact. He has the ability to cut and change directions quickly which helps him with his off the ball movement, coming off screens and such, and you can see that he's starting to develop a mid-range which could be deadly with his ability to elevate off the floor quickly and create space. Defensively he is a tough player with pretty good lateral quickness and the ability to fight through screens. He can't afford to get into foul trouble in Italy because of his important scoring role, but you can tell he has the potential to excel in this area if he puts his mind to it. He obviously can crash the boards with the best of them if needed, even as a guard because of his strength and superb vertical leap. Evans has improved significantly in Europe on the two biggest aspects of his game that have kept him out of the NBA so far, his outside shooting and ballhandling. Shooting wise he shot 44% for the season from behind the arc (103/235 in both Italy and the Euroleague) which is a big improvement that reflects the hard work he has put in. His shooting form is slightly awkward, he shoots the ball low and in front, but it works for him and he gets it off quickly. In terms of ballhandling he'll never be a PG like Marquis Daniels
, but he is a very good slasher as noted and can occasionally pull down a rebound and start the fast break. He can create his own shot in the NBA, his crossover is getting better and better and should continue to improve.Why sign him?
Evans is one of those rare free agents who can come in and contribute immediately to a team but still has a large upside to continue to improve. Despite the fact that he has a large contract waiting for him in Spain (reportedly offered 800,000 dollars by Parmesa Valencia) he can most likely be had for cheap by an NBA team with a guaranteed minimum contract. One of the biggest knocks against him coming out of college was that he only played one year in a major conference, but experience is no longer a concern as he has played for some of the best leagues in Europe over the past two years (the Euroleague, Greece and Italy) and did so for top teams. He has a good attitude towards the game and has showed the willingness to work hard in order to continue to improve. Evans would be a low-risk, high return type signing that could be a nice contributor off the bench in the right situation. Two years in Europe can do wonders for a player's desire to stick in the NBA.