Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Jeremy Evans wants to be known for his game as a whole, not just as a dunk artist.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest earns a player instant celebrity.
Fans come to know you as the dunk champion and remember you for capturing their attention, while players appreciate the effort and creativity shown during the showcase event. Things change for a player after they're crowned dunk champion.
That's how the basketball world came to know Jeremy Evans.
The high-flying forward was largely introduced to the basketball world when he won the league's annual All-Star Weekend dunk contest in 2012. He went from being a relative unknown to the "Human Pogo-Stick." But being the guy who won a lackluster dunk contest isn't why Evans plays the game. He knows he has more than dunks to offer the Utah Jazz, and is dedicated to showing the basketball world what he's capable of doing on the court.
"Everybody sees me as the dunk champion and of course I want to move on," Evans said. "I can dunk, but there are other parts to my game and I want to show that I can play on this level."
Evans has a mix of athleticism, length and enthusiasm that provides him many advantages. From an athletic standpoint, he's simply capable of doing things on the court at a different speed and height. During the Orlando Summer League, the 24-year-old forward showed that he's also capable of making a good pass and using his athleticism to block shots and rebound.
"I've always felt like I'm an energy guy," he said. "When I step on the court I try to change my game with energy. I want to block shots, get rebounds and score when needed. I just want to make some sort of impact when I'm on the floor."
He's embraced the week-long league as an opportunity to improve.
"I came here wanting to work on my game, but I also wanted to try different things," Evans said. "I wanted to build confidence in my shooting. I know you can't make them (shots) if you don't take them. That was one of my biggest things; I really wanted to build confidence."
Evans played well in the league finale, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds. He knows he has a long way to go in his maturation, but he's eager to do the work. Evans is confident that he can be an impact player for the Utah Jazz and is doing the required work to make the next step in his career.
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"There is a lot to like because he is a great worker," Jazz Summer League coach Scott Layden said. "He's great young man and he really dedicated himself to getting better every day and it shows. We had a chance to play him at both forward spots and he responded well. He does some spectacular things but also does a lot of team things. He's been terrific."
Having the confidence of his coaches makes things easier for Evans. He's always valued coaching and looks to his coaches for honest feedback and guidance when deciding what work needs to be done. One thing he won't do is relax when he gets positive feedback. He intends to keep working toward becoming a featured player in Utah.
"I'm going to keep working," Evans said. "I'm never satisfied and I always want to keep pushing to make that next step in my career."