Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans will test the NBA waters.
He hasn’t signed with an agent, meaning he can return for his sophomore season.
But don’t bet on it.
DraftExpress.com has Evans going at No. 7 to the Golden State Warriors.
“I am pursuing what has been a dream of mine for a long time, and that is to play some day in the NBA,” said Evans. “I am thankful to Coach [Josh] Pastner and my family and friends for their support.
“I am putting my name in the draft and see what happens. I will attend some workouts and see what feedback I receive. Once I have all the information available to me, I will sit down with my family and talk about what’s the next step to take – either to remain in the NBA Draft or return for another season of college basketball here at Memphis.”
The 6-foot-6 Evans, MVP of last year’s McDonald’s All-American Game, was the consensus National Freshman of the Year. He thrived after former Memphis coach John Calipari moved him to point guard from the wing following a loss to Syracuse that dropped the Tigers to 6-3.
The Tigers won 27 straight before falling to Missouri in a West Regional semifinal.
During the first nine games, Evans averaged 14.8 points and 3.5 assists while looking tentative. Afterward he averaged 17.2 points and 5.1 assists. He led Memphis in scoring (17.1), steals (2.1) and assists (3.9).
The question will be whether Evans’ skill-set can translate to the next level the way that Derrick Rose’s did. Rose, who spent a year at Memphis before going pro, dropped 36 points for the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of their playoff series against the defending NBA champion Celtics.
Yet Rose was a pure point guard from Day One, whereas Evans was not. Still, in this weak draft he should be a high lottery pick.
“Like I said to Shawn [Taggart] last week, I told Tyreke to go after his dream, and that is to play at the highest level – the NBA,” Pastner said. “Tyreke is a talented and gifted player, and I support him 100 percent with his decision to enter his name in the NBA Draft. If there is anything I can do to help him in pursuit of his dream, I’ve told him that I will be there to assist him.”
Pastner has known since Calipari left — if not before — that Evans was a goner, and so the new coach must find a competent point guard to replace him. The Tigers are involved with James Beatty of Miami-Dade College.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.