By Bill Koch
Enquirer staff writer
The University of Cincinnati basketball program has received its first recruiting commitment since coach Bob Huggins was indefinitely suspended June 12 after being arrested for driving under the influence.
Tyree Evans, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from George Wythe High School in Richmond, Va., has orally committed to UC, beginning with the 2005-06 season.
He'll play this season at The Winchendon School, a prep school in Worcester, Mass., that produced former Bearcat center Donald Little.
Evans is expected to sign a national letter-of-intent with UC during the November signing period.
NCAA rules prevent the UC coaching staff from commenting until he signs.
"He got on our campus last night at 9:30 to start summer school," Winchendon coach Mike Byrnes said Monday. "He came in my office today at 2 o'clock. He said, 'Coach, I want to let you know you can tell everybody I will be attending the University of Cincinnati.' "
Evans said Huggins' suspension did not affect his decision. "Everybody makes bad decisions," Evans said. "Everybody needs a second chance. That's a Hall of Fame coach. He just made a bad choice."
Franklin McMillian, the coach at George Wythe, said he and Evans talked about Huggins' suspension before Evans made the commitment.
"Hopefully, coach Huggins will be back," McMillian said. "He had already spoken with coach Huggins (before the DUI incident). I think his commitment is solid. He wants to play for Cincinnati."
Evans, the Virginia high school player of the year, averaged 29.5 points last season. His 884 points were the third most in a single season in Virginia high school league history, behind Allen Iverson and Moses Malone. His 2,251 career points were the 11th most in VHSL history, but he surpassed Duke's J.J. Redick as the top career point producer in Group AAA, the big-school division.
He also played wide receiver and defensive back on the George Wythe football team.
"He's definitely a true two guard," McMillian said. "I would say he needs to work on his ball handling. But he's a prolific scorer. He's extremely quick. He's a strong kid who gets up the floor very well. He has just unlimited range. He has NBA range right now."
Evans' season high was 51 points. He scored in the 40s four times and in the 30s nine times.
Clark Francis, who runs the Hoop Scoop recruiting service, ranked Evans at No. 130 in the high school class of 2004. He was No. 66 by PrepStars.com.
"He's got a lot of talent," Francis said. "When he gets hot, he's a terrific outside shooter. He can take it to the basket and he's athletic. He probably shoots too well to be a stereotypical UC player, which his good. I think he's a good catch."
Evans, 19, said he chose UC at least partly because of the loyalty that Huggins and recruiting coordinator Andy Kennedy showed him when it became apparent that he was not going to meet the NCAA's academic standards for freshman eligibility.
"All the schools that were on me my junior year, a lot of the schools backed off," Evans said. "But Cincinnati was still with me. They were showing a lot of loyalty to me. They showed me a lot of love. Cincinnati was still there trying to help me out."
A look at Tyree Evans
Averaged 29.5 points last season as junior; 11th all-time in Virginia in scoring (2,251 points) and third all-time in a single season (884).
The scoop: "He's extremely quick. He has just unlimited range. He has NBA range right now."
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