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TSL Q & A: Tyreke Evans

Chester, PA's finest on young memories, NBA adjustments and stayin' fresh.

By Michael Tillery December 04, 2012, 09:34 AM EST

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Child hoop prodigy. Chester, PA. Hot bed. BluPrint Entertainment, after the game is gone, is now nothing but an on-court focus. Doc, Pooh and Reggie raised him right. Showed him the streets, but he didn't live them. Chester is off the universe, if you didn't know. Reke made it out. One of a select few to average 20/5/5 as a rookie. Pro ups and downs. Tyreke looks to soar. This is a contract year. His game is improving. Keith Smart is pushing him to get everything out of his smooth skill set. Will Sacramento benefit?

 

TSL: First court you remember in Chester.

Tyreke Evans: 7th Street.

 

TSL: You were from McCaff (McCafferty Village)?

TE: Yup. McCaff and the Gardens (Highland).

 

TSL: Your brothers raised you in the game.

TE: They put the ball in my hands. I liked basketball and football. Watched them play. I kept playing. They trained me. That's when I knew I was going to be a basketball player.

 

TSL: Reggie Evans, Tyreke's brother chimes in:

TE: He started off in the biddy league. Coached him when he was four (had to be six to play) at Smedley. Rasheed Wesley would be at the games. I had him running point, the 2 and even at center. He was like Kevin Garnett. He could do everything. Me and a friend, Verdell from Prices Park in DE, started our own AAU team. He didn't play for the Raiders early on and did his own thing. Tyreke was 11 playing on 16-year-old teams. Rasheed and Que (Gaskins of Reebok fame) arranged for a meeting at St. Joe's and begged me to let Tyreke play with them. He had some friends on the team.

 

We knew how people gravitated to people who were hot. All kinds of people tried to get in. He didn't need that. He had brothers. He had a father. I was a father figure as well, so it was easy to put him in the proper position.

 

TSL: Football? Did you play for the Chester Panthers?

TE: Played two games at quarterback. My Mom and my brother didn't want me to play, so I quit.

 

TSL: NFL QB you wanted to throw and run the rock like?

TE: Pittsburgh fan, so Kordell Stewart. He could do it all.

 

TSL: Spoke with Karl Morris. You played one game for him and beat the Reebok Raiders team you eventually played for coached by Rasheed Wesley. Rasheed said you defeated Master P's squad that had his son Romeo, Brandon Jennings and DeMar DeRozan in the Final Four (14u).

TE: No one expected us to win it. Got to the Final Four. Everyone thought we were going to lose to Master P's squad. We beat them and then won the championship. First time a team from Chester won the National Championship.

 

TSL: The Elite 24. I talked to you and your voice had barely cracked. You were so young.

TE: Young boy in that game. First time playing at Rucker. Crowd was into it, even though it was raining. Played like I was on the playground at home. The next year, I had the feeling I was gonna kill it and showed it.

 

TSL: VSP Vision Care. What do you get out of giving back to Chester?

TE: I wanted to do something when I made it. The most important thing was not forgetting where I came from. Giving free eye exams for the kids at school was cool.

 

TSL: When you come home, where do you get a hoagie?

TE:   Phil and Jim's. La Spada's. Two J's. Stacky's.

 

TSL: Furillo's?

TE: Definitely Furillo's!

 

TSL: People say your increase in production has everything to do with this being a contract year.

TE: It's early. I started a little slow. Last five I've played good, like my rookie year. Can't worry about the contract. I have to go out there and play everything will be fine.

 

TSL: Rasheed and Karl said when they coached you, you are just a basketball player. A man without a position.

TE: Feel the same. Can play either (guard) position. Most importantly, with or without the ball. Playing the two right now and doing a good job. New, but I'm working. Moving without the ball. Working out hard.

 

TSL: What are you learning from Keith Smart?

TE: Play hard for 48 minutes. Every time I'm on the court. Energy. Defense to offense.

 

TSL: Your game is effortless. Folks take from that that you aren't playing hard.

TE: Always played this way. Just because I play smooth doesn't mean I don't go hard. I'm not one to run all over the place. I let the game come to me.

 

TSL: Playing with DeMarcus Cousins. Do you see you can become a tandem that could do damage?

TE: Push each other every time we're out there. We're young, but we both need to work hard. We know we can have success and do it in Sacramento.

 

TSL: Playing in Sac?

TE: It's fun in Sac. The fans are crazy (good thing). They love and support the players…what I like the most playing here.

 

TSL: Moving. Not moving. Playing in a shadow of uncertainty. Reporters asking same questions.

TE: We do get asked that question a lot, but it doesn't affect us. We are just like the fans and don't know what's going on. We play basketball and leave that stuff up to ownership.

 

TSL: What do you want to do in this game?

TE: Play hard every night. Get to playoffs and win a championship. Play in All-Star Games. Get to the Hall of Fame. It's early for me, but I have to work.

 

TSL:  Red Bottoms and Rolexes?

TE: I like Red Bottoms, they're different and people ask me what they are. Watches? I wanted to get it really nice and switch it up from wearing a lot of ice. Classy with Rolexes.

 

TSL: Fashion sense. Important to have a certain image?

TE: Wanted to have my own style. Wear more suits. I'll be switching it up a little bit more.

 

TSL: When you hit the door after practice or a game? Off days. What's on deck?

TE: Get something to eat. Hang out with my friends. Watch games. Play games. Bowling. Have challenges to see who is the best.

 

TSL: What's in the XBox?

TE: (NBA) 2K13

 

TSL: You play as yourself? Skills where they should be?

TE: I don't like playing as myself. The handles are nice. Everything is cool.

 

TSL: What are you listening to?

TE: A little bit of everybody. Kanye. Jay-Z. Meek Mill. Kendrick Lamar before a game sometimes. I got a little playlist.

 

TSL: Meek Mill?

TE: I knew Meek since my rookie year. I was in a video he did in Chester. Meek worked hard and made it. When we see each other in Miami we say whassup. He's good peoples.

 

TSL: Favorite city that's not Sacramento.

TE: I like LA, Miami...Chicago.

 

TSL: You've also made it and so many haven't. You're not in your prime. How grateful are you to be in this position?

TE: Very grateful. I have a great opportunity to be in this position and to be able to do what you love.  My Mom was strong.  My brothers had it bad (we laugh). I had it a little easier. Wanna thank my Mom and my family for all the support. It's me and Jameer (Nelson) out of here right now. We both have to do what we have to do to make the most of it.

 

 

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Michael Tillery has contributed to the New York Times, The Nation, SLAM, Sacramento Magazine and hosts a radio show on Chuck D's RAPstation.com. Find him on twitter at @michaeltillery.

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