Tyreke Evans almost sounded satisfied.
The gifted 6-6 basketball prodigy out of Chester is his own harshest critic. He doesn't like watching highlights of himself, and he doesn't take compliments very easily. But, he will gladly take what's coming to him today, when - according to numerous NBA sources - he is selected the Rookie of the Year.
This past season for the Sacramento Kings, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 72 games. That included leading a remarkable 35-point comeback to beat the Chicago Bulls, 102-98, on Dec. 21.
The twist is that the last NBA Rookie of the Year to come from the Philadelphia area was Geoff Petrie, the Kings president of basketball operations.
Petrie, who also has Delaware County ties - he's a Springfield (Delco) alum - selected Evans with the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. Petrie was co-Rookie of the Year with Portland following the 1970-71 season, sharing the honors with Boston's Dave Cowens. Before that, there was Earl Monroe (Bartram) in 1967-68 with Baltimore, and Wilt Chamberlain (Overbrook) in 1959-60 with the Philadelphia Warriors.
"Tyreke's a special player, there are so many things he does well and we felt really good taking him at four," Petrie said during the season. "He's maturing fast and doing a lot of things we saw at Memphis. What I really like is how well he's seeing the court right now, and how well he rebounds for a guard."
Evans, the highest-ever draft pick from Delaware County, said he never thought of himself as being Rookie of the Year. He didn't even think he'd average over 20 points a game this season.
"I didn't," said Evans, who was MVP of the McDonald's All-America Game after finishing at American Christian, and collected freshman of the year awards after playing 1 year at Memphis. "I really didn't know what to expect this year.
"But I'll say this, I'm definitely happy with the year that I had. It's funny, because I might not say I'm ever satisfied when it comes to my game. But I had a good year. I wasn't expecting to average 20 points. I thought I'd average around 10 points as a rookie."
Evans said a big key to his season came in the second game of the season when he scored 22 points against New Orleans' Chris Paul.
"That was a lot different than my first game, against Oklahoma City, when I struggled a little," Evans said. "After the first couple of games, I found out that I could score the ball at this level. This is what has come from all the hard work, from all the time I put in and all the sacrifices I made."
About halfway into the season, Evans started to hear tremors that he was a Rookie of Year possibility, along with Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings.
"I never thought about being Rookie of the Year," Evans said. "I heard things and didn't pay it no mind. My complete focus was on finishing out strong."
He said his siblings helped him along the way.
"All my brothers are important," he said. "Reggie, Doc and Pooh. But Pooh worked me hard, real hard, he's the one who helped me improve my game. But I still want to improve, I still think I can get better."
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