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By JOSEPH SANTOLIQUITO (Daily News)

THE DESTINATION always seemed to be the NBA. Ever since Tyreke Evans was a baby, with a regulation-sized ball in his hands, he’d watch games with older brothers Reggie, Doc and Eric. Tyreke would imitate what he saw on TV, and was making free throws as a 4-year-old on a regulation-sized court.

As recently as a year ago, the destination never wavered. When Evans sat before a phalanx of microphones and told a national TV audience that he’d be going to Memphis, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the gifted 6-6 shooting guard out of American Christian in Aston would be a one-and-done.

Evans made that definitive yesterday, when he announced that he intends to leave Memphis and enter the NBA draft in June. The school announced on its Web site that he submitted his paperwork to the NBA, but indicated that he would not sign with an agent, which would allow him to change his mind and return to college.

Evans said he knew it was time to leave after Memphis lost to Missouri in the Sweet 16 to end the Tigers’ season.

“Coach [John] Calipari told me I was a great kid and that I’d be a lottery pick,” Evans said. “He told me it was time for me to leave. That’s when I knew I would put my name in.

“I had to sit down with my brothers and we spoke about going. I told them what coach Cal said, and I let my brothers handle the rest. I feel pretty happy, with all the hard work that I put in. My goal was always to make it to the NBA, and it’s something I dreamed about since I was a kid. I always dreamed about being called up during the NBA draft, and seeing guys get emotional. I might not. I have to see when I get up there.”

Evans finished a very strong season at Memphis, leading the Tigers with a 17.1 scoring average, starting in 35 of 37 games. He concluded the season with a career-best 33 points in a 102-91 loss to Missouri in the NCAA Tournament.

Calipari subsequently left for the job at Kentucky, and Memphis assistant Josh Pastner was promoted to the top spot.

Some draft prognosticators have Evans, who adjusted seamlessly to a midseason position change from shooting guard to point guard, going as high as No. 2 overall. He was selected national Freshman of the Year by a number of news outlets.

Still only 19 (he’ll turn 20 on Sept. 19), Evans showed a great combination of scoring instincts and strength to the basket this past season. Under Calipari, Evans also showed an ability to defend and rebound at the major Division I level, averaging 5.4 rebounds a game and leading Memphis with 77 steals.

“I think Tyreke is really good,” said an NBA source who could not speak on the record. “I’ve always compared him to Larry Hughes. They have similar size; maybe Tyreke is a little taller and a little thicker. Both have well-rounded games. I think Tyreke is an NBA starter, and he’s only 19. He has a work ethic and he wants to get better. He’s not a great shooter, and I don’t know if that will ever change.”

But is Evans a point guard in the NBA? Calipari went through three point guards before putting the ball in Evans’ hands. The result: a 27-game winning streak for the 33-4 Tigers, before losing to Missouri.

“I saw Tyreke play twice live this past season, and I can only scout what I saw,” the NBA source said. “Cal did a good job when he finally put the ball in Tyreke’s hands. Cal made him a willing passer. But don’t get the wrong idea; Tyreke’s not a point guard. He’s a wing with a great handle. Tyreke has great size, he can finish, he gets to the line a lot, and can rebound and lead the break. There are a lot of things I like about him. He’ll be a lottery pick and a really good player, with a chance to be an All-Star. I have to admit, I’m a fan of the kid. Anyone 6-6 and that talented, you have to be.

“There’s nothing wrong with being Larry Hughes. He had an opportunity to be a special player; without all the injuries, he could have been an All-Star. I’m rooting for Tyreke to make it. He had a great freshman year. We’ll watch and see where he winds up.”

“Before we made this move, we got the feedback we wanted to hear,” said Reggie Evans. “We’re hearing anywhere from 1 to 15, but that will depend on what teams need. We’re declaring without an agent, and that’s important. If we don’t like where Tyreke is drafted, he could go back to Memphis. We are interviewing agents, but we haven’t signed with anyone yet.

“Right now, my family’s biggest concern is that Tyreke gets drafted by a good organization and be able to play for that team. The bottom line is that he’s happy.”

Said Tyreke: “I always had haters in my life. I like that. It makes me work on my game that much harder. In June, David Stern is going to call my name. My family will be there, and that’s the most important thing. I get a chance to live my dream. It just happened so fast.”… Read Entire Article Here

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Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet will give up his final year of college eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

The 7-foot-3 center from Tanzania said yesterday that he made the decision after speaking to family, friends, and coach Jim Calhoun.

Thabeet, the Big East co-player of the year with Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 4.2 blocked shots per game in helping the Huskies to a 31-5 record and a Final Four berth.

Calhoun called Thabeet “one of the most dominant defensive players in the history of college basketball,” and said he believed he is ready to make the move to the NBA.

Another Big East star, DePaul’s Dar Tucker, also plans to enter the draft. The 6-5 sophomore guard averaged 18.5 points and five rebounds this season.

Flynn may return. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says guard Jonny Flynn might not be headed to the NBA along with teammates Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris.

Boeheim said Flynn’s status was “kind of up in the air.”

Last week the school announced that all three players planned to make themselves eligible for the draft.

The coach said Devendorf and Harris are virtual locks to leave, but Flynn might still opt to come back to school.

Flynn led the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game and set an Orange record by playing 1,418 minutes in his sophomore year. After two seasons, he ranks seventh in career assists (439) at Syracuse.

He indicated he will not hire an agent, giving him the option to return to school.

Evans’ decision. With Chester native Tyreke Evans close to deciding whether to make himself available in the draft, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James weighed in on the prospects of the former American Christian star, a freshman at Memphis.

“If he decides to come out, he’ll be a lottery pick,” James said after his team beat the 76ers on Friday at the Wachovia Center. “He’s really talented, and I got the opportunity to have him at my basketball camp a few years ago when he was in high school. As he continues to grow and his body develops into a man, he’ll be really good. I’m all for whatever Tyreke decides to do.”

Yesterday, Memphis assistant coach Lamont Peterson said that Evans’ decision would come soon.

“Tyreke has sat down with his family, and a timetable has been set for him to make an announcement,” said Peterson, who declined to reveal the deadline. “We’ve heard from several sources in the NBA.”

Evans is enrolled at Memphis and continues to attend classes. He averaged 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game this season.

Coach John Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky. Former assistant Josh Pastner is the Tigers’ new coach.

“Coach Pastner has his own ideas about how to utilize Tyreke’s talent and skill set, which will be a little different from Coach Cal,” Peterson said. “But Tyreke has a great relationship with Coach Pastner.”

James, who made the leap from high school into the NBA, was asked whether Evans could improve further by staying in school.

“I think he could, but he can develop in the NBA also,” James said. “Who am I to say, ‘Stay in college’… Read Entire Article Here

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Tyreke Evans was the #1 ranked HS player in the country last season and last year was the winner of the Triple Crown (MVP of the the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Game, the McDonald’s All American Game & the Jordan Brand Classic Game). Tyreke is considered to be a lottery pick in this year’s 2009 NBA DRAFT and will be contributing to Philly Hoops monthly.

Tyreke
si_cover2
Dear Diary,

We lost last week in the sweet 16 round of the tourny. The game was played in Phoenix, Arizona on the same field where this year’s Super Bowl was played. I felt bad for Antonio, Robert and Chance because they are seniors and it meant that their college career is over. We thought we were going to win the whole thing. Coach Cal did a great job of preparing us but Missouri hit every shot they took and we didnt always execute. I scored 33 points which was a career high for me. My mom told me that I made the cover of Sports Illustrated again. Nothing gets by her. The semester doesn’t end until the first week of May, so now I get to focus more on school.I havent made up my mind about entering the draft.

I’ll get with my brothers and figure out what to do next about the draft. Reggie has been getting alot of feedback from personnel people so he’ll have a good idea about what happens next for me. Its going to be a tough decision but either way I cant go wrong. Next year’s recruiting class is ranked #1, so we are going to be even better. The next time I write you will know my decision so stayed tuned.

win_it1The projections – some of them, at least – say he’ll be a lottery pick if he leaves school early, a 19-year-old millionaire the moment commissioner David Stern summons him to the stage during this summer’s NBA draft.
For Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans, the decision whether to remain in college or turn pro seems automatic – especially considering he’ll get no resistance from his head coach.
“Without question,” Memphis’ John Calipari says, “if Tyreke has the opportunity to leave, I’ll tell him, ‘You’ve got to go.’ ”
Calipari has done it before with freshmen such as Derrick Rose and DaJuan Wagner – and he’ll likely do it again next season with the one-and-done prospects from a 2009 recruiting class that some analysts are already hailing as the best in college basketball history.
More and more these days, Memphis is becoming the country’s most popular pit-stop to the NBA.
“There’s a proven track record here,” Calipari says. “When you’re ready to take that next step, we won’t hold you back.”

logo_collegiate_diaries2

Tyreke Evans was the #1 ranked HS player in the country last season and last year was the winner of the Triple Crown (MVP of the the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Game, the McDonald’s All American Game & the Jordan Brand Classic Game). Tyreke is considered to be a lottery pick in this year’s 2009 NBA DRAFT and will be contributing to Philly Hoops monthly.

Tyreke

Dear Diary,

I cant believe the season is over. I remember my brother Reggie telling me to enjoy this time because its going to go by fast. It seems like yesterday we were doing individual drills, but that was really five months ago. Alot of things have happened this season. I moved to the point guard spot after we lost to Syracuse. Since then we are undefeated. With me at the pg we are 22-0. We have the longest winning streak in the country and we have 58 straight conference wins which is also the longest streak in the country. I gotta mention my teammates, Robert Dozier, Antonio Anderson and Chance McGrady. They have won 132 games in four years at Memphis. That is the college record for most wins by a basketball player over four years. Coach Cal should get some of that credit.

I’m surprised that people thought I would hit a wall or slump as the season went on. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this season my whole life. I feel stronger now and I’m excited about what I have accomplished. I led our team in scoring and steals. We are ranked #3 in the country. I didnt know that I’m the only freshman nominated for the Oscar Robertson Player Of The Year Award. I was recently told that I was the Conference USA Freshman Of The Year. And I cant believe that I’m on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

I get asked all the time if I’m leaving after this year. Right now i don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m a school student first. I love it here at Memphis. I’ve got good teachers, the support system is great, college life is great, my teammates are great, we all get along and do everything together. The whole town treats us like stars. I promised my mom and my brothers that I would keep my grades up and continue to go to school even after the season is over. Its hard to stay focused especially when you see guys on tv playing in the league that you grew up with and played against. My situation might be different from other players, cuz its not about the money. Reggie tells me its about the best situation for me. I wont make my mind up until I sit down with my brothers and think about all the options.

logo_collegiate_diaries2

Tyreke Evans was the #1 ranked HS player in the country last season and last year was the winner of the Triple Crown (MVP of the the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Game, the McDonald’s All American Game & the Jordan Brand Classic Game). Tyreke is considered to be a lottery pick in this year’s 2009 NBA DRAFT and will be contributing to Philly Hoops monthly.

Tyreke

Dear Diary,

Since I last wrote, a lot of stuff has happened. We played Tennessee and beat them at their place on national tv. That was crazy because the whole place is bright orange. Our teams are six hours apart in the same state. We control the west side and they control the east side. Our teams are each others’ most hated rival, so for us to win at their place was sweet, especially since they beat us at our place last year. I was in the stands as a spectator for that game a year ago, on my recruiting visit and here I am one year later helping Memphis to beat Tennessee. To know that we delivered for Coach Cal made the victory even sweeter and everyone knows that there’s no love lost between Coach Cal and Bruce Pearl.

Last week we flew to Dallas to play SMU. Unlike other schools we have our own private chartered plane. We never go through regular airport security or have to worry about airport delays. Our private plane always waits on us. As soon as our games are over we shower, get back on the plane and head home. Coach says he does this because our time is valuable and we are more efficient with time management. Whenever we travel overnight we also have our academic advisor who travels with us. This way all of our homework assignments are always handed in on time. Sometimes we even have study hall on the plane.
We ended up beating SMU and the next day we practiced at their facility before heading to Spokane to play Gonzaga. The Chicago Bulls had a game that night against the Dallas Mavericks and the Bulls practiced on the court next to ours. We got a chance to exchange numbers and catch up with Derrick Rose. He said sometimes he wishes he were back in Memphis and that in the NBA it’s all about taking care of your business.

After practice we flew to Spokane. When we got to Spokane we had another practice/shoot around. Since our game against Gonzaga was going to be featured on ESPN’s COLLEGE GAMEDAY, Bobby Knight, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Hubert Davis were at our practice. It was funny to see them at our practice cuz i’m used to watching them on tv. Most people predicted that Gonzaga would beat us. They had to move the game to downtown Spokane because of the ticket demand. We beat Gonzaga 68-50 and I had probably the best game of my career. I scored 22 points and had 6 rebounds. What nobody knows is that at halftime I felt sick and as were we walking to the court I threw up three times in the hallway. My teammates showed me no mercy and were laughing at me and calling me Willie Beamon. After the game my phone blew up. I had 25 new messages. It seems like everyone I know was watching the game. My brother said I repped for Chester. My mom told me that Bobby Knight was saying nice things about me and called me the best freshman in the country. While we were on our plane, right before takeoff, I got a phone call from LeBron James. He told me to keep working hard and I might be playing against him next year.

logo_collegiate_diaries2

Tyreke Evans was the #1 ranked HS player in the country last season and last year was the winner of the Triple Crown (MVP of the the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Game, the McDonald’s All American Game & the Jordan Brand Classic Game). Tyreke is considered to be a lottery pick in this year’s 2009 NBA DRAFT and will be contributing to Philly Hoops monthly.

Tyreke

Dear Diary,

I really like it here in Memphis. Some things are different. Everyone down south always speaks to you. It seems like everywhere I go people know my name and they are friendly. It’s definitely slower here than back home in Chester, but its all good. Right now our team is really starting to jell. Whats made the difference is having a month off for Christmas break. We’re here on campus with no distractions like school work, ha ha.

Coach Cal has the whole staff working with us on individual stuff in the mornings and we usually practice in the evenings. Since Coach Cal moved me to the point guard position, we are undefeated. I’ve been getting compliments on my defense. That’s something that I know I needed to improve now that I’m in college. I lead Conference USA in steals.

We play Tennessee on CBS on Saturday. That’s big because everyone will be able to see me on TV, especially my mom. Everyday we get better and understand more why Coach pushes us as hard as he does. I hope that all of our hard work pays off and that everyone is watching us in Detroit in April.

Georgetown's Austin Freeman, left, battles for a loose ball against Memphis' Tyreke Evans (12) during the first half of an NCAA college men's basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, in Washington.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Georgetown’s Austin Freeman, left, battles for a loose ball against Memphis’ Tyreke Evans (12) during the first half of an NCAA college men’s basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, in Washington.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Tyreke Evans, shortly before heading to Memphis for his freshman year... Stephanie Bahnatka- 1stflashphotography.com

Tyreke Evans, shortly before heading to Memphis for his freshman year... Stephanie Bahnatka- 1stflashphotography.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kevin Tatum
Inquirer Staff Writer

Tyreke Evans left home to play college basketball and certainly took his jump shot with him.
Memphis played for the NCAA title last season, but this season, the Chester native is the Tigers’ leading scorer.

Evans, a freshman guard, was averaging 16.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 steals going into Memphis’ game against Syracuse today. Evans and the Tigers will play Drexel on Monday in Memphis.

But Evans also took with him a sense that it was time to grow up.

“Leaving home is big,” Evans said in a recent interview. “Time to man up, being in college and doing what you have to do. It’s like I thought it would be, and I like it better than high school. You’re more on your own.” Read the rest of this entry »

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