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Big 12

Evans likes his position

Wichitan Maurice Evans and his agent say he's made himself a first-round prospect in the NBA Draft.

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By Van Williams
The Wichita Eagle

Like one of his strong, swift drives to the basket, Maurice Evans' position in the upcoming NBA Draft may be rising.

Evans' strong play at a Chicago pre-draft camp early this month and workouts with five teams have raised his stock as an NBA hopeful, said Evans and his San Antonio-based agent, Roger Montgomery.

"We're looking forward to Maurice being selected in the first round," Montgomery said.

Evans, who transferred from Wichita State to Texas in 1999, and Montgomery say he won't fall any farther than a high second-round pick Wednesday.

"I've established myself as a first-round prospect," said Evans, who is expected to work out for the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. "Now, I'm just trying to solidify myself as a first-rounder."

His pre-draft camp play got the attention of The Sporting News reporter Mike DeCourcy, who wrote that Evans' performance propelled him into a group of five players who most improved their draft standing.

Most Internet mock drafts view Evans as an early to middle second-round pick. That's higher than earlier projections, which had Evans going either in the middle to late second round or undrafted after his surprise May 18 announcement that he would skip his senior season and make the leap to the NBA.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is one of roughly 50 underclassmen or high school players who declared themselves eligible for the draft by signing with an agent.

Evans' chances are improving because he possesses what NBA people call upside -- scout jargon for promise.

He's a muscular shooting guard who boasts a strong leaping ability, a soft long-range jumper and solid defense.

The knock on Evans is that his ballhandling and mid-range shot aren't good enough to beat NBA defenders.

Evans' performance in Chicago eased concerns of NBA scouts and general managers, he and his agent said.

His first-round hopes mostly stem from his play in Chicago, where in front of such NBA dignitaries as Michael Jordan, he competed against 65 other players.

"I shot the ball pretty well," Evans said. "I played well, and I showed a lot of athleticism."

In 40-minute games, Evans led his team in scoring (12.6) and steals (1.6). He once scored a game-high 17 on 5-of-9 shooting.

Second-round picks earn a minimum salary of $332,000, if they make the team, Montgomery said. But unlike first-round picks, second-rounders do not receive guaranteed contracts.

Annual salaries for a first-round player range from roughly $3.2 million for the No. 1 selection to roughly $600,000 for the No. 28 pick. There are 29 NBA teams, but Minnesota lost its first-round selection due to a violation of league rules.

Evans' NBA salary wouldn't be all his dough. After taxes, a professional athlete pays his agent the standard 4 percent of his salary and income from other sources such as endorsement deals, Montgomery said.

Evans is being represented by a company featuring some accomplished Texas businessmen, who run two-year-old Momentum Sports Management. It represents close to 50 professional athletes, including Seattle SuperSonics guard Desmond Mason and Houston Astros left fielder Lance Berkman.

Montgomery is the vice president of basketball for Momentum, based in San Antonio. The 30-year-old agent is a former player at Georgia Southern and NAIA Life University who had a short stint as a professional player overseas. He got his start as a talent scout and an agent in 1994, when he served as a basketball operations assistant with the Houston Rockets.

Momentum has a Dallas-based media division, which handles player marketing.

Montgomery found Evans in April, he said, during a week that Texas athletic officials designate for agents to visit pro prospects.

Evans said Texas coach Rick Barnes tried to persuade him to remain in school and improve his draft position by playing for a team that returned several key contributors from a NCAA Tournament team and signed some top recruits.

Though Evans and Montgomery stressed that he enjoyed his one season at Texas and believed he developed parts of his game, Evans was frustrated that Barnes used him mostly as a spot-up shooter -- a move that Evans believes stunted his growth as a ballhandler and a penetrator.

"The system didn't allow him to show that he had a mid-range game," Montgomery said. "When you look at shooting guards in the NBA, you have to be able to make your own shot."

Evans still has academic ties to Texas. He said he's a semester away from a degree in sports management.

He hopes to parlay those NBA dollars into a career in business.

"I want to own my own business," he said. "If you get a lot of money like that, you can be a venture capitalist and let your money work for you."


Van Williams can be reached at vwilliams@wichitaeagle.com or at 268-6269.

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