Speculation continues to swirl around whom the 76ers will take with the 10th overall pick in the June 21 NBA draft.
That's fair, considering it's the most likely spot the Sixers would land a player that could make an immediate impact. But the Sixers have five other picks to deal with, including another first-rounder at No. 26.
In doing their due diligence, the Sixers have continued to work out prospects who could be available late in the first round. One such player is Jacob Evans, who took part in a predraft workout at the Sixers' practice complex in Camden on Friday.
A lot of things could happen between now and the night of the NBA draft. With a total of six picks, some previous picks stashed internationally, big free-agent hopes, and limited roster space, the Sixers are in a prime position to package some of their picks in a deal. But right now, nothing is certain, and Evans is an interesting candidate to look at.
"He's talented," Sixers director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said Friday. "He's not somebody to be overlooked. He competes, he's long … and coach [Brett Brown] likes defenders. He can defend and he can make a shot."
A 6-foot-6 guard/forward out of Cincinnati, Evans is a defensive specialist who prides himself on being able to switch with ease. He is a nimble on- and off-ball defender, who is just as comfortable guarding a point guard as he is guarding at the three or four spot.
Evans averaged 13 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and one block per game in his junior year at Cincinnati. At first glance, the numbers can seem low for a first-round prospect, but Evans showed that he's capable of scoring at a high clip when needed and is a reliable ball-handler who can create his own shot.
In three years with Cincinnati, Evans made his body a priority, improving his overall composition, and is one of the most physically ready players in the first round. Scouts and analysts have said that Evans' game will translate better in the NBA than it did in college, and he agrees with that evaluation.
"In college, people can just hang out in the lane," Evans said. "With the three-point line farther back and the defensive three-second rule, it makes it harder to guard or double team a guy who is penetrating. My game makes sense with that kind of spacing."
Evans added that he thinks his basketball IQ will favor him at the next level. Being able to make quick reads and anticipate moves or switches before they happen are things that are more valuable at the NBA level and Evans wants teams to know that's what he brings to the table.
In conversations with his agent, Evans is expecting to get picked anywhere between 16 and 35 on draft night. But the number isn't what's on Evans' mind.
"Just waiting for that day for your dreams to come true," he said. "I've been working really hard day-in and day-out at these workouts and giving it my all. I'm just ready to get it done and have my name called."
He has been working hard. Despite not being touted as a top prospect, interest has been high for Evans. In addition to the Sixers, he has worked out for Phoenix, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Portland, the Lakers, Golden State, Denver, and Minnesota. He still has planned workouts with Utah, Orlando, and an unconfirmed session with New York.
Evans wants to work out with teams that not only show interest but also make sense for him. He wants to play hard, gritty, tough defense and run fast. In need of perimeter defense and someone who can shoot, he said the Sixers seem like the perfect fit.
Coming out of high school, Evans was not a hotly recruited player and had to prove his mettle in college. Now he'll be doing the same thing again. He realizes that there isn't as much expected of a late first-round pick coming from a smaller program than some of the top guys, but he's ready to make a name for himself in the NBA.
"I always have that chip on my shoulder," Evans said. "Being from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we're a small city, we're tough down there so it's something I carry with me everywhere I go."