Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 2/25/12

It is OK if you do not know who Jeremy Evans is. He is the least known of an unheralded group of four that will compete in the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk competition Saturday night at Amway Center.

Paul George is becoming a household name for his strong play for the surprising Pacers. And Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams were household names for strong Arizona team.

Evans, a 6-foot-9 forward from Western Kentucky, does not have the college name to build buzz and he has played only 16 games this year for Utah (averaging 1.7 points per game in 5.6 minutes per game) and has played only 65 total games in his brief two-year career. So you would not be alone when you said, "Who?" after the NBA named him to replace Iman Shumpert.

So how did Evans go from completely unknown to Dwight Howard's favorite to win the contest?

That is likely a question Evans will get to answer when he takes the floor Saturday night and shows off what he has got. Winning the Dunk Contest would be a "Dream come true."

"It's still unbelievable," Evans said of his quick rise into Saturday night's premier event. "But I have you here and the camera I feel like it's real. [Saturday] night when the lights come on, it's going to be real."

It certainly is going to be real Saturday night.

 

Evans spent four years with the Hilltoppers and never averaged more than 10 points per game. His senior year in 2010, he put together a career-year with 10.0 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. He shot 64.9 percent from the floor.

 

He went undrafted and unheralded. Eventually he would pick up with the Jazz and play a few games.

Even now, with all this unexpected recognition, you can argue Evans is still trying to find his place on this team and, more importantly, in the league. Evans said he is still searching for his confidence at this level.

"Obviously the NBA picked me up for a reason," Evans said. "I feel like I can shoot the ball well and I make the right decisions as far as passing and shooting. But I feel like I haven't had the confidence to shoot the ball yet and haven't had that time."

Getting a chance is obviously the difficult part for a player coming from so far back the NBA pecking order like Evans.

One area where Evans has separated himself and made his presence known is above the rim with his athleticism. Evans may be learning the rest of his role in the NBA, but he knows he belongs simply because he can out-leap everybody else. That is at least when he knew he had elite athleticism and superior dunking ability.

Of course, winning THE dunk contest is not so easy. Evans said he tried dunking on a 13-foot rim and could nto pull it off. His favorite dunk is a 360, but, he said you obviously have to do more for this competition.

Who knows if he will come out victorious in the three-dunk competition. Fan voting will determine the ultimate winner. One thing we can be sure of, someone is going to emerge from this competition as a star for winning this thing. In any case, it will be a great chance for Evans to display his extreme athleticism and show off his talents to a national stage.

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This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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