Tyreke Evans can ball. Wherever he goes, he achieves. In high school, Evans averaged 32 points a game as a senior, appeared on the cover of SLAM magazine, was featured in a documentary about trying to be the nation’s top basketball prospect, and won the MVP award of the McDonald’s All-American game. In his one year at Memphis, Evans followed in Derrick Rose’s footsteps led the team in scoring at 17.1 points per game. He declared for the draft where he was picked fourth by Sacramento. And in his first year in the league, Evans won the Rookie of the Month in his first two months and followed that up with the MVP in the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge and is the clear favorite to follow in Rose’s footsteps again as the NBA Rookie of the Year favorite. (Editor’s note: Oh and by the way he recorded his first career triple double last night)
Three players were drafted a head of him and other rookies like Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings get far more attention. But Evans keeps balling and he plays best when the spotlight’s the brightest.
The spotlight is shining a littler brighter now, but not necessarily for good reasons after Evans publicly criticized teammate Andres Nocioni in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the game, Evans was seen getting angry with Nocioni. Afterward, he told the Sacramento Bee of his comments, “We were in the game and you come down and take bad shots? That’s not team basketball. Coach didn’t say nothing, so I thought I had to step up.”
Tyreke Evans joined Grant Napear on KHTK in Sacramento to discuss the incident with Nocioni, the Rookie of the Year award, hitting the rookie wall, and what he needs to improve to become an All-Star.
On blowup between Evans and Andres Nocioni:
“It was an argument going on between me and him. He came down and took a couple bad shots and, me being a rookie, I lost my composure. I said something to him I shouldn’t have said. I was just frustrated because I wanted to win. We shook hands. It’s over with. I had to realize you can’t put your teammate under the bus like that. I should have just told him how I felt for everyone to see. I apologized to him yesterday after practice and it’s cool… I came at him wrong, so I learned a lot. We are a family. We have been together since the start of the season. You can’t just break a guy down. I told him sorry to the team and I was sorry. Everybody was cool with it and they accept my apology.”
On his health toward the end of his rookie season:
“I get a little tired there. Once you get on the court, it’s different. Once we get off the court, it’s different. We have about twenty games left and I hope I can finish strong.”
On the importance of winning the Rookie of the Year Award:
“That’s a big honor for me, especially for the organization and the Kings. It would be a good opportunity for me to get it. The hard work I did all season coming out averaging 20 points all season… That was one of my goals to get Rookie of the Year.”
And on what he needs to improve to become an All-Star:
“I just need to go back home and work on my jump shot. Once I get that down pat, I think I can be a real good player in this league. I think I can be dangerous… Sometimes I catch the ball when I should be thinking about catch and shoot, but I stop and pass it or calling for a pick-and-roll or something. That’s something I have to work on. It’s the mentality I have. When I come down and miss one or two shots, the next time I am going to the basket because that’s the type of player I am.”