Monday, March 31, 2008

Update on . . . Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans of American Christian Academy (PA) has been one of the most highly touted and sought after players in the class of 2008 throughout his high school career. I chatted with the 6'6 senior guard last night. Evans is widely considered the nation's best uncommitted player, and his outstanding MVP performance at the McDonald's All-American Game, supported this idea. Evans informed me that he is considering "[Villanova], Texas, Memphis, and UConn." Evans would not identify a school to beat of the four, saying "no, I have no leader." I asked Evans if the Texas/Memphis NCAA Tournament Regional Final (Elite Eight) game had any added impact on his decision, but he told me it did not: "It's just a game. . . . Just because they win it doesn't mean they are moving up on my list." For those of you that do not know, the Tigers defeated the Longhorns. I inquired as to whether or not Tyreke has a relationship with any recruits headed to any of the four schools, and I mentioned a few players. He let me know that he "[knows Memphis-commit] Matt Simpkins. . . . [He] doesn't really talk to [any recruits]. [He] just talks to [his] friends and [his] family. . . [He has] to make the decision [himself]." For a player who has been bombarded with attention throughout his teenage years, Evans has seemingly handled all of the attention quite well, and he said that the pressure is "not too much. I think I handle it [perfectly and] . . . don't worry about any one the hype." He will certainly have to ignore the hype of the next few weeks as he prepares to select a college. He told me that he "[wants] it to have a . . . good coach. [The school should] not [be about] just basketball, but education-wise [should be strong too]. [He wants] to learn something new [in school]. [As well, he wants to] just go out there and have fun," also adding that he is watching the NCAA Tournament to see is any of his possible future schools "do anything new," during the Big Dance. Evans said "hopefully [the school he picks] will be the right place for me."
I brought up the McD's game to Evans, and he told me that it "was a great experience. . . . Wayne Ellington, Kevin Durant, LeBron [James], [and] Carmelo [Anthony have all played in the event]. . . . It was a dream come true, . . . especially [to win] . . . MVP." Evans, who had a double-double on the biggest stage in high school hoops, said he was "playing [his] game, . . . but [he] was also pumped up." His East squad came into the game considered the underdog, and I asked him if that perception affected him and his team: "Definitely. Everybody wanted the West to win. . . . We had a lot to prove, and we showed them that we have as much talent as they do." Tyreke's team completely shut down Greg Monroe, yet he informed me that they "didn't have a strategy on [anybody]. . . [The team] went out there and played hard."
I brought up the NBA age limit to Tyreke to get an opinion from someone who was actually affected by the rule, and his view was "it is what it is. I'm going to go to college [and] do what I got to do." Evans did tell me that "if [he] could have went [to the NBA] straight out of high school, [he] would have." Although he may have the skills to take his game right to the League, it's nice to see that Evans is accepting the rule, and not complaining, as some members of the class of 2007 did.
I asked Evans a few interesting questions, just to wrap things up. I started by inquiring whether AAU or high school ball is more fun. "AAU is more fun because you travel a lot. [It's a] fun time," responded Tyreke. By the way, he told me that he played his AAU hoops with "Team Final." Evans has played with a number of great players at American Christian, so I asked the star who he felt was the best of all, and he told me it was "Nasir [Robinson]." Although Robinson is currently at Chester (PA), he did spend some time at ACA with Evans. I asked Evans if he knew why Nasir left the school, and he simply said "no." Now to the important stuff: I wanted Evans' guess on the NCAA national championship. He first said "North Carolina," though after I mentioned something else, he said "North Carolina or Memphis." We'll just have to wait and see about who does come away with the title. We will also have to wait for Tyreke Evans' college decision, but the wait won't be too long, as Evans confirmed that he plans to choose a school on April 16. Get ready!

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