Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Jeremy Evans might not be a household name in these parts, but the Utah Jazz were pleased his name was still on the draft board when it was their turn to pick late in the second round Thursday night.
After going with a small forward, Butler's Gordon Hayward, at No. 9 in the first round, the Jazz selected the 6-foot-9 Evans from Western Kentucky with the 55th pick.
The 22-year-old center-forward was the school's all-time leading shooter, having shot 63.9 percent from the field over his four-year career.
"He's intriguing is the word I would use," said Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor. "There's some things about him that you can't teach."
The most intriguing things?
His leaping ability and athleticism.
"He's one of those kids, I don't what position he is — he's very thin, but he's a terrific athlete," O'Connor said. "I mean, he's a really quick jumper."
As a senior, the lanky post player averaged 10 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Evans is only the second player in WKU history to have racked up 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 200 blocks.
Evans, whom O'Connor called "an engaging kid," also earned the Danny Rumph Outstanding Teammate Award with the Hilltoppers.
But at 196 pounds, Evans actually weighs less than the Jazz's slim first-round pick. The 6-foot-8 Hayward weighs in at 207 pounds, and he's considered to be a bit frail by NBA standards.
"One of the issues (with Evans) is going to be his weight obviously," O'Connor said. "But he seemed to be able to compete at a pretty good level with that."
Evans was among the last group of draft hopefuls who worked out with the Jazz last weekend, and team management was impressed.
"He played pretty darn well," O'Connor said. "That's one of the reasons we drafted him, to be honest with ya."
Evans' hops and quickness are other reasons he was worth grabbing at No. 55.
"I think he's athletic enough to play in the league," O'Connor said. "Now whether his skill set is going to allow him to do that we'll wait and see."
Evans is expected to arrive in Utah today and will play with the Jazz's summer-league squad in Orlando next month.
Another second-round Jazz pick, 2008 53rd pick Tadija Dragicevic of Serbia, will also join the team for the first time in Florida.
Utah's other '08 second-round selection, Croatia's Ante Tomic, is under contract for another year with Real Madrid. The 7-foot-2 center does not have an NBA buyout clause, so the Jazz will have to wait until 2011 to decide his fate with the franchise.
O'Connor seemed excited about Tomic's progress, though.
"He's really been developing extremely well, playing in the highest level over in Europe," O'Connor said. "He had a stretch in the middle of the season where he was one of the best players in Europe, one of the best big men in Europe, at a young age."
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