"Yeah, that was a normal effort for me," Evans said postgame. "I just came to play."
Consider that the understatement of the year.
Evans put on the best offensive half of basketball seen thus far this weekend. He scored 23 points (the opposing team only had 20) in the first half, on 7-for-9 shooting, including 3-of-4 on three-pointers and 6-of-6 at the free throw line.
In the second half, the Raiders' coach opted to slow the pace and coast to the win, since they only had six players and were showing signs of wearing out. That backfired, however, as Fox Valley came roaring back to take a 54-51 lead in the final minutes.
"I wanted to do what I had to do [in the second half], but we didn't have a lot of guys, so we slowed it up," he said.
Evans had a quiet second half, losing his rhythm with the slow-down pace, but took charge with the game in jeopardy. First came a fadeaway three-pointer from the top of the key – in which he created separation without a dribble – and then he drove and dished to a teammate for a three-point play with 2.6 seconds remaining for the win.
He finished with 31 points (10-19 fg, 4-7 3pt, 7-7 ft), five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Simply put, Evans does it all on offense. If there's a way to put the ball in the basket, he can do it, whether with long, arcing three point strokes, drives to the basket, soft floaters in the lane, fadeaways on the baseline, or just about any other shot imaginable. He's also a capable defender, with long arms, quick feet, and great reaction time on defense, as evidenced by his gobbling up of an opponent's pass attempt.
He's excellent at creating separation to get his shot off, has long arms and big hands (perhaps foretelling future growth) and, while he is physically gifted, it doesn't look like he's maxed out physically at an early age like many other precocious players. He handles the ball well and is an able passer, too (as shown by his drive and dish for the game winning basket), though he's best when the ball is in his hand (particularly at crunch time, as shown by his downright brutal three-point shot in a defender's face to tie the game at 54).
He's so talented that one of his team's most effective plays was "Clear Out Easy Money," which was an isolation play set up for Evans to beat his man - which he did at will during the first half. Simply put, his talent is immense, and it's downright frightening to think how much better he might get as he grows into his body and becomes more muscular.
In early class of 2008 rankings, Evans is at or near the top of the list. But this weekend he proved to be one of the best performers regardless of class.
Not bad for his premier big-time event.
"This is my first year [on the national stage], but I'm looking forward to having some big tournaments this year," he said.
A 6-4 shooting guard, Evans rightfully said the one component of his game that could use the most improvement is the mid-range jumper, though he hit quite a few on Saturday afternoon.
"My pull-up jumpshot [needs work], because when I play against big guys, I need to have that," he said.
As for an early school? He rattled off North Carolina, Arizona, Illinois, Syracuse, Notre Dame, and made it clear he could keep going listing all the colleges showing early interest. Those listed have already made a visit to his school to check him out, including North Carolina.
"They've been to my school," he said of the Tar Heel coaching staff. "I've got a lot of interest in them. They stay in touch with my brother – he handles things for me because I'm young right now."
Evans has already been to Chapel Hill and attended more than one Carolina game.
"I went to a couple of their games this year," he said. "I talked to Roy Williams for a little bit."
As for teams he's rooted for while growing up? That question's easy for Evans.
"North Carolina – that's it," he said. "I've got family down here, my brother and I were born in Fayetteville. We have our family reunion down here."
Evans goes so far as to say the Tar Heels are his clear favorite and the team he intends to play for.
"I'm looking forward to going there if everything goes right – yeah, it'll be Carolina," he said definitively.
#12 Tyreke Evans
Highlight Reel 1 -
Highlight Reel 2 -
Highlight Reel 3 -