- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It remains to be seen how good the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be on the football field next season. But they might be able to put together an impressive basketball team.
The centerpiece would be Mike Evans, the wide receiver the Bucs selected with the seventh overall pick in the first round. Evans, 6-foot-4, was a standout high school basketball player in Galveston, Texas.
Evans didn’t even play football until his senior year and had visions of an NBA career and an NFL career.
“I wanted to be both,’’ Evans said.
Evans was good enough as a basketball player to have his own recruiting page on ESPN.com. Here’s an excerpt from his basketball scouting report:
“He has a strong motor, great athleticism and true toughness. Mike can guard bigger opponents in the post to block shots or get switched to smaller guards and keep them in front of him. Mike rebounds the ball with two hands and is quick off the floor to grab rebounds in traffic. Mike is typically the first to jump in a crowd for a rebound. Offensively, Mike does the majority of his damage by attacking the rim and finishing over, around or through his defender. He will use his body to knock defenders off balance to score. Mike has good hands and can catch tough passes in traffic and go up off the vertical and slam it home with two hands.’’
It’s funny, but the pre-draft football scouting reports on Evans sounded a lot like his basketball scouting report. Basketball, which Evans gave up to play football at Texas A&M, is in his past now, but Evans said his background in the sport has helped him with football.
“It helps a lot,’’ Evans said. “You see me go up for catches and treat it like a rebound. Boxing guys out and using my God-given talent, my big body. Boxing guys out for tough catches. The transition was easy because I had a lot of great coaches and a lot of great people around me to help me get here.’’
In Tampa Bay, Evans will be teamed with another wide receiver who has a body that could pass for a power forward. That’s veteran Vincent Jackson, who is 6-5.
“I was eager to come to Tampa Bay,’’ Evans said. “I really wanted Tampa Bay to pick me. I was afraid they would pass on me. Vincent Jackson, it will be great playing with him. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. A lot of guys tell me he’s a great person. I’m just ready to learn from him and hopefully we can do some great things together.’’
Evans admitted he’s coming to the NFL with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
“People criticize me on speed and route running and that I’ve only been playing football for the last four years,’’ Evans said. “I’m improving my game and am going to try to fight for a starting job right away. I’ve been working on my route running. Speed? I’ll let people see if I get caught.’’
It’s pretty obvious Evans doesn’t lack confidence. He already has a pretty clear picture of what he can bring to the Bucs.
“I’m Mike Evans,’’ he said. “I’m going to do anything it takes to win, get involved in the run game, be physical. I’m going to go get the 50-50 balls. Be a great teammate and try to bring leadership.’’