Evans Gets Chance to Shine
Evans Gets Chance to Shine
By Matt Sanchez - UtahJazz.com
Originally left off the Slam Dunk Contest roster, Evans will now be part of All-Star Saturday Night after New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert decided to withdraw in order to rest a sore knee.
“It means a lot to be in the contest,” Evans said. “I’ve been watching these contests my whole life and to be a part of it will be an honor.”
Though excited, Evans isn’t satisfied with just being selected to compete; he intends to bring home the title of slum dunk champion.
“If I’m going down there then I’m going down there to win it,” Evans said.
Evans’ popularity has been increasing with fans over the past few weeks as the #LetJeremyDunk campaign has been in full-swing. Teammates and fans alike have been touting Evans and pushing for him to be included in the contest.
Videos showing Evans perform an array of dunks have been circulating the internet with the tagline, “#LetJeremyDunk”. The dunks of which a normal human dare not dream to attempt are admittedly “nothing special” by Evans, but wanted to show a bit of what he could do.
“I didn’t want to show too much for the YouTube videos, so I could keep the creativity to myself, but I’ve got some great ideas planned,” Evans said.
The 6’9” Arkansas native knows it will take something that hasn’t been done before to win the contest. When asked to elaborate or to comment on a few never-before-seen ideas, Evans laughed and said, “things can be done.”
The average NBA fan may not know who Jeremy Evans is or where he plays, but he’s excited for that to change.
Evans is a player that fit right in and endeared himself to fans the first time he put on a Jazz jersey.
The Jazz have always prided themselves on playing the right way; preach team work and the importance of knowing your role.
Evans is embracing his role on the team.
“This year my big role has been to keep the guys’ heads up and clap for them and encourage them to keep playing hard,” Evans said. “Whether we win or lose a close game, my job is to help keep the team focused.”
Even after a three-game losing streak, in which Evans didn’t see the court, his ability to lighten the mood was in full-effect when he was seen encouraging his teammates.
“That’s the kind of person Jeremy is,” said Gordon Hayward. “He never gets down on himself and he’s so important to our team even if he doesn’t play every game.”
Evans hasn’t seen the court in 16 of a possible 30 games this season and has amassed more than 10 minutes in a game only twice, but that’s not changing his attitude.
“Of course I want to be out there playing, but I understand putting in my time and paying my dues and just because I’m not playing a lot doesn’t mean I’m not improving.” Evans said.
Coach Tyrone Corbin is pleased with the progress Evans has made, but admits it’s been difficult to find playing time for the second-year player.
“We’re pretty deep with our post players,” said Corbin. “Jeremy is an extremely hard worker and a bright young man. He’s taking this opportunity to learn from the veterans and improve his all-around game.”
Whether people believe he belongs in the Dunk Contest or in the NBA altogether, Evans is constantly knocked and doubted, and that has been the source of his motivation.
“People said I couldn’t even make it in college and now that I’m in the NBA they say I can’t shoot or I’m not big enough,” he said. “I’ve been knocked all my life but I turn that negative into a positive and can’t wait to prove them wrong. The only thing that can stop you is yourself and I won’t let that happen.”
This year’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest will take place during All-Star Saturday Night on February 25 on TNT beginning at 6:30 pm MST. The winner of the contest will be entirely up to the fans as voting will be conducted via text message and on Twitter. If you want Evans to win, be sure to sign up for Twitter and vote for him @JeremyEvans40.