WKU nearly made history Thursday night. The Toppers just missed out on having two players drafted in the first two rounds of the same draft for the second time in school history. Jim McDaniels, Clarence Glover and Jim Rose were all selected in the first two rounds in 1971.
Forward Jeremy Evans, recently a WKU graduate, was drafted, going at No. 55 overall, in the second round, to Utah. Evans had been working and making strides all spring. But even then, he wasn't sure he would hear his name called.
On draft night, he gathered with his family and some friends at the youth center in his hometown of Crossett, Ark. to watch on television.
"We got to maybe No. 50 and I hadn't given up yet," Evans said. "I just sat there waiting for my name to be called. It did go on commercial and when it came back, I saw my name. I was sitting there paying so much attention, when it went across the screen, I was like, 'Man, that's my name' and I jumped right up. Everybody was just sitting there and I was waiting for a reaction from somebody else. I didn't want them to think I was crazy. After I saw some other peoples' reaction I just took off running and from there, it was just excitement the whole night."
To help pass the time and stay motivated, Evans said he and his former teammate, A.J. Slaughter, also a recent graduate, called and text messaged each other. Evans jokingly said the conversations were an omen.
"We were keeping in touch the whole night, just calling back and forth, talking about the picks and how it wasn't over with," Evans said. "I'll continue to have him call me."
Slaughter wasn't drafted, but was listed by some experts, including ESPN, as one of the top remaining prospects after the draft. Soon after, Slaughter reached an agreement to play for the Detroit Pistons' summer league team in Las Vegas. He'll receive marginal pay for five games, which will serve as sort of an open tryout. Slaughter leaves for Las Vegas July 5.
"That's a great thing because they love me," he said. "They said if they had another pick, I would be their draft pick. It's always good to go to a team that likes you and that has a spot open for a point guard. A lot of guys go to summer league and play for a team that doesn't even have a spot open, so they really don't have a chance to make a team."
Slaughter was disappointed he wasn't drafted, but wasn't overly surprised.
"There were a couple of teams that said they liked me, but I knew how crazy this draft was," he said. "I knew what to expect."
Right now, Slaughter is playing in the Louisville Pro-Am tournament in which recent college players and various NBA players for the area are also participating. The tournament goes into next week, before he prepares to go to Las Vegas.
As a second round draft pick, the Jazz obtained Evans' rights, but his contract isn't guaranteed. He'll also be playing in summer league, for the Jazz. But Evans said he feels good about his situation.
"I believe anywhere, I could fit in," he said. "It's just adjusting to the system. They say they run plays just about every time down the court. I'll have to get used to that and just play my role and know what I'm supposed to do and do what the coach asks of me and I think I'll fit in pretty good."
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