Texas Tech basketball: Keenan Evans scores 20 in NBA summer league action

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 31: Keenan Evans
LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 31: Keenan Evans /

Wednesday, Texas Tech basketball alum Keenan Evans scored 20 points in an NBA summer league game for Memphis.

Looking to make his case for an NBA roster spot, Texas Tech basketball alum Keenan Evans scored 20 points for the Memphis Grizzlies’ summer league team Wednesday night.  Going 7-10 from the field and 3-4 from 3-point range, Evans led his team with 20 points in an 83-68 win over Cleveland.

It was quite the offensive explosion for Evans after he scored just six points total in Memphis’ first two games of summer league action.  As the Grizzlies head to Las Vegas for more summer games, Evans needs to repeat this performance if he hopes to earn a shot with an NBA team next season.

After not being drafted last summer, Evans spent most of last season in the NBA G-League with the Grand Rapids Drive, the developmental team for the Detroit Pistons and the Delaware Blue Coats, the developmental team for the Philadelphia 76ers.   While playing with Delaware, Evans was reunited with his former Red Raider teammate Zhaire Smith, who was working his way back into shape after recovering from a broken foot and a food allergy attack that hospitalized him.

In 45 G-League games, Evans averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game in 27.6 minutes of action.  He shot 43.4% from the field and 38.6% from 3-point range.

Evans has been coming off the bench this summer for Memphis playing behind another point guard that might be familiar to Red Raider fans; former West Virginia Mountaineer Jevon Carter.  What’s more, Dusty Hannahs, who started his career at Tech before transferring to Arkansas is also on the Grizzlies’ summer league roster.

Evans, a former All-Big 12 point guard, spent a bit of time on the Detroit Piston’s active roster last season but did not see any action.  It goes to show just how much of a gap there is between the NBA and the college game.

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A consensus second-team All-American in 2018, he averaged 17.6 points per game in leading Tech to the Elite 8 as a senior.  But his lack of ideal size and explosive athleticism has made it difficult for him to get opportunities at the highest level of the game.

What he displayed in Wednesday’s win was an ability to get to the paint and score in traffic as he knocked down several off-balance shots near the goal.  And though his 3-point jumper is still a bit slow in its motion, it appears that he’s continued to work on the aspect of his game that most believe he needed to improve when he left Texas Tech.

Evans is not the only Red Raider alum on an NBA summer league roster this year.   Zhaire Smith is playing with the 76ers as he tries to refine his game after missing most of last year.  But unlike Evans, Smith has a guaranteed spot in the NBA last year after being taken in the first round of the 2018 draft.

Meanwhile, Tariq Owens is getting his shot with the Phoenix Suns and Matt Mooney is playing for the Atlanta Hawks as both former grad transfers try to impress NBA teams after being undrafted last month.  And of course, No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver will see some action with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Next. Tariq Owens' best games as a Red Raider. dark

Considering that Tech went almost two decades between NBA draft picks, the fact that Chris Beard’s program is now putting numerous players in position to get a shot at the league is another sign of how strong the Red Raider program has become.  And given the way Beard has been recruiting, we can only expect to see more Red Raiders populating NBA rosters upcoming years.