, Port Arthur, Texas


January 3, 2013

Best of West: Earl Evans blocked from All-Star game by ridiculous rule

PORT ARTHUR — Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on April 20, 1974.

If the shallow thinkers who determine policies for the Texas High School Coaches Association could somehow be transferred to the mayor’s office in Jackson, Miss., the pairing would qualify as one of those so-called marriages made in heaven.

It takes considerable searching to find someone, or something, who has its head buried as deeply in the sand as the THSCA rules makers. But last Friday night, just as a Port Arthur trio was nearing the give-up station, the mayor of Jackson saved the day.

With long lines stretching around a local theater, the mayor sent his boys from the vice squad out to confiscate the film of the movie “The Exorcist.” Even as behind the times as the mayor of Jackson has to be, it’s hard to believe such a thing could happen to a film which is shattering box office records and was nominated for numberous academy awards.

Equally hard to accept, however, is the fact the Texas high School Coaches Association has legislation so stupid that it penalizes the super athlete. The rule being referred to is the mandate that says any youngster who competes in an All-Star game prior to the THSCA All-Star games in August is ineligible to play in the Texas game.

As near as can be determined, the rule came about because of the Big 33 football series a few years back between the top schoolboy gridders in Texas and Pennsylvania. Seems as how the more glamorous Big 33 was stealing all the thunder away from the THSCA showcase event. So the coaches retaliated by enacting legislation forcing players to make a choice.

The rule really wasn’t needed because Texas began kicking the you know what out of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, the hosts threw in the towel and called it quits. But, just to keep the Oil Bowl in its place, and make sure no other promoter’s brainstorms lured Texas’ football talent away, the rule remained.

Since the board of directors of the THSCA is nearly always completely football dominated, it probably never occurred in their one-dimensional minds that Texas’ stepchild — basketball — might someday turn out a player or players so good they would capture national attention and have the opportunity to compete against the best talent from other places in All-Star competition.

That, of course, is exactly what’s happened the last two years. Wheatley’s Eddie Owens was rated among the nation’s top 10 players in 1973 and invited to participate in Pittsburgh’s Dapper Dan Classic. Naturally, he jumped at the opportunity, thus forfeiting the right to play in the Texas coaching school’s All-Star basketball game.

This year it’s Lincoln’s Earl Evans, rated by recruiters as the nation’s No. 2 prep prospect behind Moses Malone, and being invited to participate in Louisville’s Derby Classic and Parade Magazine’s Seamco Classic in New York. Like Owens, Evans wasn’t about to pass up the chance for the exposure and competition such games offered.

Consequently, for the second year in a row Texas’ All-Star basketball game will be held without the state’s top player. For the second year in a row a player who has received publicity from coast to coast, and been recruited by virtually every major basketball power, has to watch from the sidelines. For the second year in a row, the THSCA has benched its best possible basketball drawing card.

A writer from Port Arthur tried explaining this preposterous situation to a coach at the Derby Classic last week in Louisville and was immediately called a liar. “That’s a pretty good story, but you don’t really expect me to believe it,” said the coach. “What possible logic could there be to a rule like that?”

Finally convinced that the story was indeed true, the coach sought out a couple of his buddies. Everybody had a good laugh and before long the story was spreading like wildfire. Those who knew it was true summed things us concisely. “No wonder the best kids get the hell out of Texas.”

Particularly because this year’s coaching school is being held in Houston, Earl Evans would love to play the final game of his schoolboy career there. He wants to play one more time in front of the home folks but it’s not possible and Evans doesn’t understand why.

Evans’ coach, James Gamble, normally a very non-controversial guy, is bitter over the situation. “It’s just a perfect example of why Texas basketball is so far behind,” he said. “There’s no plausible reason to penalize a kid for getting outside exposure, but it’s being done here. How in the world are we ever going to make any progress with the fans, if we deny them seeing the state’s best player every year?”

While Evans and Gamble were in Louisville, there were ale to read in the newspapers about the Indiana team, which Evans faced on Sunday, playing a touring Russian team. The Russians had already played a group of schoolboy All-Stars from new York and Monday night they played Kentucky. Before they leave the country, the Russians will face the top schoolboy players from three other states.

A game against the Russians would be a natural in Houston but, because of the Texas High School Coaches Association, there’s not much chance of that ever taking place. We certainly can’t have our blue chippers benefiting from the value of international competition, and messing up the Texas All-Star game, can we?

Especially when an event of that sort might prompt somebody on the outside to think there’s something besides oil and football in the Lone Star State.

It’s no wonder good, young basketball coaches and the state’s finest players pack their bags when opportunity beckons. It’s also no wonder Southwest Conference teams get humiliated every time they leave Texas soil. You can’t send a canoe up against a battleship and expect to win.

What’s so defeating about the problem is that in a state as vast and wealthy as Texas, there’s room for more than just strong football programs. Let’s don’t be as backward as the mayor of Jackson, Miss., forever.

Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at


Text Only
  • Trophy stab 1.jpg WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work

    There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins

    It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City

    The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City. 

    July 26, 2014

  • ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes

    The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.

    July 26, 2014

  • TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl

    Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.

    July 26, 2014

  • Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0

    The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog