, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

December 20, 2012

Best of West: Evans benefitted from rolling dice on Las Vegas

PORT ARTHUR — EDITOR’S NOTE: The following column from the Best of West collection was first published in the Port Arthur News on April 8, 1979.

Without rolling the dice a single time, drawing 21 from a generous dealer or hitting a mammoth slot machine payoff, Earl Evans may have struck it rich last weekend in Las Vegas.

Evans, the former Lincoln great who is destined to become the first Port Arthuran to play in the NBA, sent his stock soaring with a Pizza Hut Classic performance that should have earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Going head up against Player of the  Year Larry Bird most of the time he was on the floor, Evans led all scorers with 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and defended Bird extremely well. The Indiana State superstar hit just 5-of-17 from the floor on the way to scoring 17 points.

Surprisingly, Bird was named MVP.

“It didn’t make any sense at all,” said Texas’ Abe Lemons, who coached Evans’ West team. “On that particular day, Earl was the best player on the floor. If you check the time Bird played against him, you’ll find he didn’t do much. Earl deserved the trophy. I didn’t know much about him, but he sure impressed me.”

Evans was so pleased with his effort he didn’t let the MVP oversight bother him. From Honolulu, where he’s preparing for the Aloha Classic, Evans said he felt the Pizza Hut game would be very helpful in his upcoming contract negotiations.

“I needed a big game and I was really psyched up for it,” he said. “All the pro teams had somebody there. A game like that is a good chance to check out what guys can do against the best players in the country. I have to think the game was worth several thousands dollars to me.”

Evans finds himself in an enviable position as the draft nears. Taken as a future by the Detroit Pistons in the seventh round after his junior season, he can go with them or have his name resubmitted. Considering his season at UNLV, and his Pizza Hut performance, he’s almost certain to be a first round selection.

“I’m not sure what I’ll do,” said Texas’ 1974 Schoolboy Player of the Year. “If Detroit makes me the right offer, I wouldn’t mind playing there. I’m pretty much going to leave it up to my agent. I’m confident he’ll get me the best deal.”

Evans’ confidence is certainly not misplaced. His agent is none other than Mike Trope, the Californian noted for the blockbuster packages he hammered out for football players Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Chuck Muncie and Anthony Davis. Trope settles for nothing short of top dollar for a small but elite clientele.

“I got acquainted with him when I was going to school at Southern Cal,” explained Evans. “He rang me back this year and said he’d like to represent me. Most of the contracts he’s done are for football players. But he did deals for Reggie Theus and Freeman Williams last year and I know they were pleased.”  

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Bob West
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