Of all the versatile, 3-and-D wings the Trail Blazers are looking at in preparation for the June 21 draft, Jacob Evans might not be the biggest name, or have the most eye-catching statistics.
But the Cincinnati junior says his work ethic and will power, combined with his 6-foot-6 frame and plus-shooting skills, will reward a team that drafts him.
“I see myself as one of those underrated guys,’’ Evans said. “I have a lot of potential and will have an impact on a team when I get to the NBA.’’
Not surprisingly, Evans cites Jimmy Butler as one of his idols, primarily because of Butler’s path from late-first-round pick to NBA All-Star.
“He was an underdog, not a lot of hype behind his name, but there is something you can’t take away from him: his hard work and dedication to the game,’’ Evans said.
Evans is working out for teams in the No. 16-to-30 range, and Saturday’s workout with the Blazers was his second, after a visit in Phoenix, which has the 16th and 31st picks.
“I could have shot the three better in Phoenix,’’ Evans said of his workout. “But I shot it well today.’’
Evans worked out with Miami guard Bruce Brown and Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo, which comes one day after the Blazers looked at wings Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), Melvin Frazier (Tulane) and Gary Trent Jr. (Duke).
Evans averaged 13.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists for Cincinnati, and shot 37.7 percent from three-point range in his three seasons, including a career-best 41.8 percent as a sophomore. In February against Central Florida the index finger on his right shooting hand was bent back. At the time, he was shooting 41 percent from three; he shot 28 percent after the injury and ended at 37 percent. His finger is still bothering him, but doctors have told him he needs two weeks of rest and it will be 100 percent.
Still, it is his defense that he prides himself on, and again, he points to an NBA player who helped mold his style.
“My favorite player was always Kobe Bryant, but my dad always hated him because he says he doesn’t play defense,’’ Evans said. “But he made all-defense multiple times (12). He wanted me to be like Scottie Pippen. It was his favorite player because he dominated on both sides.’’
Evans notes that he fits the evolving style of NBA players: able to play multiple positions, able to switch on defense, and hit from the outside. Those types of skills are being honed at IMPACT, the Las Vegas training academy, where he is going against players like Troy Brown (Oregon), Trent, Elijah Bryant (BYU) and Marcus Foster (Creighton).
“There’s a lot of hungry dogs out there and you don’t want to be training in there with Chihuahuas, you want to be in there with the pit bulls,’’ Evans said. “That’s why I’m there.”
He said he developed his work ethic by watching his mom, Theresa Chatman-Evans, raise him and his two older brothers in a single-parent household in Louisiana.
“Watching her work day in and day out to provide for our family … she never had to tell me to work hard, it’s been instilled since I was little,’’ Evans said.
It’s a work ethic that he says won’t fade once he reaches the NBA, much like Butler did in building himself into one of the premier 3-and-D players in the league.
“I try to carry that same mindset (as Butler),’’ Evans said. “Not just because of him, but it’s because it’s who I am.’’
Notes: The Blazers on Saturday also worked out USC big man Chimezie Metu, Georgia Tech big man Ben Lammers and French guard Elie Okobo ... As the media was allowed into the gym, Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey was transfixed on a run of impressive shooting from Okobo, a 6-foot-2, 20-year-old lefty who shot 41.8 percent from three-point range for the Pro A League Elan Bearnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez last season. Okobo On Saturday went around the three-point arc without missing until his final shot from the corner, much to the chagrin of Okobo and the coaches feeding him passes.