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Utah Jazz: Second-round pick Jeremy Evans getting himself noticed

Published: Friday, July 9 2010 11:06 p.m. MDT

MAITLAND, Fla. — He wasn't one of the Jazz's top-five scorers here, and wasn't one of their top-three rebounders, either.

But Jeremy Evans, Utah's second-round selection in the June 24 NBA Draft, certainly made himself noticed during five days' worth of practices and five games at the Orlando Pro Summer League here.

"It's been a thrill for me to watch him play," Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said after Evans scored 12 points, shot 6-for-7 from the field and pulled down five boards while logging 20 minutes in Utah's summer-ending 85-56 win over Philadelphia on Friday.

"He's a very lively guy, and he worked very hard," Sloan added after Evans' best game of the week. "It's exciting, because he seems to want to do what we want him to do. He understands. He's understood where we've tried to pass or tried to do this or do that."

At 6-foot-9 and 196 pounds soaking wet, Evans is a string-bean, jumping-jack type — long, athletic and super hops.

But therein lies the issue.

Is the Western Kentucky product a small forward, as his weight and lanky Tayshaun Price-like frame suggest? Or is he a power forward, as his height and skills hint he can be?

"I believe 3 (small forward) right now," Evans said, "but after I put on weight, I can play wherever they want me to — 3 or 4."

Sloan said Evans does need to get stronger and work "on his body a little bit, because he can run, he can jump, he sees the floor pretty well for a big guy."

Whatever the position, the Jazz simply see him as a player.

He sure looked like one Friday, finishing in style an alley-oop tossed by free agent Thomas Gardner, blocking 76ers guard Jodie Meeks, taking a charge from 235-point Cedric Simmons, soaring high above the crowd to tip in a miss.

"We like the fact that he competed," general manager Kevin O'Connor said Friday, "and we like his athleticism."

Whether they like it all well enough for Evans to land a roster spot this coming season remains to be seen.

When the Jazz drafted him late last month, it was with the idea that perhaps they could stash him overseas for a season and allow him to gain some weight and develop his game.

After watching him for the past 10 days in Florida, however, it's possible that the Jazz could encourage him to come to training camp in the fall with hopes of winning a job.

O'Connor wasn't sure Friday what would wind up happening. But there's no doubt what the 22-year-old small-town Arkansas native wants.

That would be a shot at the NBA, and probably sooner rather than later.

"I had my ups and down," Evans said. "I'm just trying to get comfortable. And I believe I did that as the week progressed.

"I just knew that if I came here, left it all out on the line, no regrets," added Evans, who averaged five points, three rebounds, one steal and nearly one block over five games, "that it was up to the coaches to decide it."

If the way a certain coach was raving about him Friday is any indication, it wouldn't be shocking at all to see Evans at camp come fall.

"He just plays basketball," Sloan said. "It's amazing what a simple thing it is to say, but getting guys to do that is pretty tough sometimes. We've enjoyed watching him try to do what we've asked him to do."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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