Tyreke Evans to Declare, Surge Up Draft Board
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Posted By Bethlehem Shoals 12:00 PM
Blah blah blah, celebrity coach jumps to storied program and money flies everywhere. The real news out of Memphis is that, to the surprise of no one, freshman guard Tyreke Evans is going pro. Yes, that's what you go to Memphis to do, and Evans did head into this season as the top-ranked freshman in the land. But, in a manner typical of many big-name recruits, he let us down before lifting us up. Evans was unimpressive at SG; once installed at PG, the Tigers were unstoppable. That's some serious results right there.
Now, here's the NBA dimension: Everyone knew Evans was going pro. But as the Tournament winds down, shakes out, whatever, I'm inclined to think Evans might end up going way, way higher than expected. SN's Sean Deveney cautiously points to him as someone who helped his stock this March, and currently has him going ninth in his mock draft. But when I look at Evans's season, I see much the same position O.J. Mayo was in a year ago, but with an earlier start on convincing teams he's worth the past hype. I've got this new theory -- when drafting one-and-dones, it's at least worth considering where they were before actual experience intervened.
Okay, so maybe that's leading him down the "next Ben Gordon" path, which no team wants long-term. The jury's still out on whether Mayo can move past this, given his love for the perimeter and lack of bust-out athleticism. But let's not forget that Mayo's trying to turn from a college shooter to a pro scorer. Evans has the potential to be one of those Russell Westbrook-esque bundles of talent who could do some things at point guard -- the position at which he excelled in college, albeit in an unconventional Memphis system -- or just get thrown out there to play off of similarly versatile guys. A rosy vision for the future, perhaps. And yet outside of Griffin and possible entrant Ricky Rubio, who looks more NBA-ready than Evans did in that Missouri game?