The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
One of Lincoln High School’s all-time basketball greats, Earl Evans, has passed away at age 57. Details of Evans’ passing are sketchy. He was found dead Monday at his home near Oklahoma City, possibly due to heart problems.
Evans, as a schoolboy senior at Lincoln was the Texas High School Player of the Year in 1974, was a Parade All-America and was ranked as the second best player in the nation to Moses Malone. He was selected to play in national high school All-Star games in New York and Kentucky.
Heavily recruited, the 6-8 Evans signed with the University of Southern California, was unhappy there and transferred to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In two seasons covering 55 games for Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels, Evans averaged 16.7 points per game.
The Detroit Pistons drafted him as a “future” in the seventh round after his junior season, but he returned to UNLV and averaged 17.9 points in the 1978-79 season. One of his career highlights was outplaying future NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird in the Pizza Hut All-Star Classic after his senior season.
Evans went on to play one season for a Detroit franchise that was in turmoil when he arrived. Dick Vitale, who would later becomes famous as an ESPN analyst, was the coach of the Pistons but was fired early in the season. Evans, slowed by injuries, averaged 4.4 points and 2.1 rebounds. It would be his only NBA season.
Evans, who averaged 28.6 points and 19.5 rebounds per game his senior year at Lincoln, was named to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1995.
“Without a doubt, he was the best player I’ve ever coached,” said legendary Lincoln coach James Gamble. “To hear that this has happened to Earl is really a shock. I’m told it was probably a heart attack. The last time I saw him, maybe six months ago, he was a picture of health. He looked like he could play in the NBA.
I just can’t find the words to express how I sad I feel. I loved him dearly as a player and person. He was not only the best player I ever coached, he was one of the best high school players I ever saw. Not many players can say they averaged 28 points and 19 rebounds. And he usually didn’t play much in the fourth quarter.”