Utah Jazz: Action-packed summer for Jeremy Evans

Published: Wednesday, June 20 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

Speaking of being known, Evans smiles that he can no longer roam the country — in itty-bitty Utah towns or in random places like malls and gyms — without being recognized since winning the dunk contest.

"You never think somebody will notice you and all of a sudden they say your name and ask for an autograph or something," he said. "That's crazy."

The forward was in a mall one day when a young kid told his mom that Evans was the dunk champion. She didn't believe him until Evans did a windmill slam over her in the food court. (OK, not really, but she did need convincing.)

This spring, Evans joked with his buddies that they should try to hustle some basketball players in a gym in Biloxi, Miss. Evans thought, "They aren't going to know who I am."

The plan was short-lived.

"A couple of my fellas (and I) went in there and they knew right off the bat who I was," Evans said, laughing. "No hustling."

The newfound fame hasn't gone to Evans' head, though.

"He's still Jeremy," his friendly bride Korrie said. "He's humble."

And Evans is still the happy-go-lucky fella from Arkansas who loves painting, drawing, carving, playing the guitar and video games and racing remote control cars when he isn't working (or eating popcorn and laughing with Hayward and teammates before Jazz games).

The Jazz couldn't ask for a better representative on the road, either. Between encouraging kids to listen to their parents and go to school, he plays and laughs with the youths of all ages like they were his siblings.

"He is awesome," Martinez said. "All the players are great, but he is personal with them. He genuinely enjoys doing it. It's pretty fun to see the way he interacts with them."

To answer some of the kids' questions they asked Evans: No, he has never met Carlos Boozer; No, he can't autograph your arm (or any part of your skin); Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal were his favorite players growing up (and Shaq is the player he'd be the most afraid to play against); Yes, he tried being a soccer goalie in junior high ("But the balls were coming at me SO fast!"); He's won "a lot" of games; shoe size: 15; and, no, he hasn't played for another NBA team ("Hopefully," he added, "I'll be here next year. We'll see.")

(If you're wondering, the 6-9 Evans is one foot and four inches taller than his 5-foot-5 girlfriend of six years. "I sometimes have to tell him to step back when we're talking," she said, laughing, "because I have to look up.")

As for his day job, Evans points to needing to build up confidence as being a big factor in making that next leap in the NBA. He believes his ball-handling skills will continue to improve, which should help.

"You just have to go out and do it," he said. "You can't just say it."

Evans said it's "weird" to think of leaving Utah, but he's well aware that could happen this summer.

"I know it comes with the territory and the job, but you come here, meet friends, meet people … the Jazz staff," he said. "It feels like a home and a family, but I may have to leave."

That's where he puts trust in God and in his agent to help make the right things fall into place.

"Whatever happens, happens," he said. "I know it's going to work out for the best."

In the meantime, he'll continue his 12-stop tour de Jazzland, which still includes visits in Cedar City, Bryce Valley, Escalante, Salina and Beaver on Thursday and Friday.

While doing these clinics, Evans has likely seen more of Utah than most Utahns.

Name a remote town in the Beehive State, and he's probably played hoops there.

"I've seen a lot," he said. "I wish I could sometimes put my family in my pocket and let them see what I see. Of course, you can take the camcorder around, but it's not the same. It's amazing the stuff you see out here."

Now Evans only hopes the Jazz management values him as much as the Junior Jazz kids do.

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