Kings' Evans named NBA rookie of year

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Kings guard Tyreke Evans, left, accepts the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy after being named the NBA Rookie of the Year. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

No one in Tyreke Evans' inner circle is surprised that he did this well.

The basketball player's advisers had a hunch once the Sacramento Kings took the Chester native with the fourth overall pick in last June's NBA draft. When Evans participated in the 2009 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, they knew he would win the NBA rookie of the year award.

The inner circle was right.

The 6-foot-6 point guard garnered the award Thursday, beating out Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings.

"It is a big goal for me," Evans said of winning the award. "It wasn't anything that was in my plans.

"I just wanted to be the best teammate and help my team win."

But . . .

"I told 'Reke he was going to be the rookie of the year in the summer league," said Lamont Peterson, who serves as Evans' operations manager. "Blake [Griffin, who went first overall to the Los Angeles Clippers] wasn't going to start. Curry wasn't going to start. And from the summer league, [Milwaukee coach] Scott Skiles was frustrated with Brandon Jennings."

During that time, Peterson said Evans, who played one season at Memphis, could do no wrong in Sacramento.

The former American Christian Academy standout was looked upon as a savior for a franchise that finished with the NBA's worst record (17-65) in 2008-09.

"Sacramento was the perfect place for him to be rookie of the year," Peterson said. "If he went to Oklahoma City, he wouldn't get rookie of the year. Russell Westbrook is the one [point guard], but Kevin Durant gets the stats.

"He couldn't have been rookie of the year anywhere but Sacramento."

Evans became the Kings' go-to guy the first time he donned a Kings uniform.

In the process, the 20-year-old averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals. He joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only rookies in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

While honored, Evans doesn't care about the comparisons to three of the greatest players to play the game.

"I just want to be the best player that I can be and win a championship," said Evans. The Kings finished with a 25-57 record this season.

Evans becomes the first King to win the award since the franchise moved to Sacramento. The last King to win it was Phil Ford in 1979, when the team played in Kansas City.

In February, Evans was named the MVP of the Rookie Challenge game after leading the rookies to a 140-128 victory over the league's second-year players. Evans finished with 26 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Last year, he was named the United States Basketball Writers Association's freshman of the year at Memphis.

While a senior at American Christian two seasons ago, Evans was named the MVP of the McDonald's All-American Game.

 


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.