At the moment, only two former Western Kentucky players are on NBA rosters – Courtney Lee with the Houston Rockets and Jeremy Evans with the Utah Jazz.
It’s safe to say that whenever the NBA settles its current lockout, Lee will be just fine – having established himself now in the league for three years.
Evans, though, has one more year left on his contract with the Jazz – and while he turned a few heads last season, he says he knows he’s still got plenty to prove if he wants to hang around long-term.
Which is why the current work-stoppage is frustrating, as he’s now forced to continue his development on his own – and he really doesn’t have any clue when he’ll be able to get back to work.
“It’s frustrating,” Evans said this weekend at Owensboro’s Kentucky Pro-Am tournament. “I’ve just been working out and doing as much conditioning as I can, so that whenever coach calls and this thing ends I’ll be ready to get back at it.”
Despite not knowing exactly what the future holds as of now, Evans says he’s still sometimes pinching himself with the realization that he’s currently known as an NBA player.
“The whole thing was amazing, just to get out on the court and play with those guys is unreal,” he said. “But you’ve got to snap out of that really quick, because it’s about winning – it’s a lot of fun, though.
“The craziest thing to me is still being able to tell people ‘hey, I play for the Utah Jazz.'”
While the lockout is directly complicating things for Evans and Lee, it’s indirectly altering the lives of a handful of other former WKU standouts trying to get their careers going overseas or here in the U.S.
A.J. Slaughter and Steffphon Pettigrew were also on hand in Owensboro this weekend, and both said that the current NBA work stoppage is touching all fronts of professional basketball.
“The lockout is making everything tough,” said Slaughter, who played professionally last winter in Italy. “My plan is to go back overseas and continue to prove myself for another year and then see what happens.
“It’s very frustrating right now. The lockout is going to change a lot of people’s lives and I’m one of those guys. A lot of NBA guys will try to go overseas and try to play until the season picks back up. So I’ve just got to keep going and do my best. … It’s nothing you can control, so you’ve got to continue to go out and play and see what happens.”
Pettigrew says he’s in the same boat – as he’s not able to go through any workouts with NBA squads, or have a chance to play in the annual summer league.
“I can’t go through any workouts right now because of the lockout, but right now my agent is talking with teams in Spain and Greece trying to get me a workout over there,” he said. “Hopefully something happens soon. Right now I’m just hanging around home and working out every day as much as I can. It’s pretty frustrating for anybody that just came out of college.
“But all we can really do is stay in shape and keep working out – we can’t control the other stuff.”