Although slow of foot and not super athletic, the 25-year old has been praised for his shooting form, his 6’11.25” wingspan, huge hands, and brick-house physique. He should provide great competition in training camp scrimmages and could earn a spot on the G-League roster.
Before joining the NBA, Jeffries spent one season at Oral Roberts and two at Tulsa. He steadily improved over his collegiate career. In his senior year as a Tulsa Golden Hurricane, he averaged 13 points, 5.6 boards, and 1.2 blocks in 28.1 minutes, started 31 games, and shot 37% from deep on four attempts per contest.
That season, Jeffries won the State Farm College Slam Dunk Contest at the Final Four and was selected for the Third-team All-American Athletic Conference in 2018-2019. New York loves dunkers!
Evan and Rokas fight on in the 41st edition of the international classic.
By Russell Richardson
After the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics, FIBA EuroBasket is the top international basketball event, and at this year’s EuroBasket, two representatives of the New York Knicks are battling in the Group of Death.
Knicks fans are keeping an eye on Group B, which includes France, with New York’s shooting guard Evan Fournier, and Lithuania, with draft-and-stash prize Rokas Jokubaitis. Both teams have qualified for the round of 16 in their quest for Euro gold.
As of this writing, Lithuania stands at 2-3, with victories against Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and losses to Slovenia, France, and Germany.
France has fared better with a 3-2 record. After a surprising tournament-opening loss to Germany, Les Bleus proceeded to defeat Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lithuania.
Against Lithuania, Fournier sizzled with 27 points in 27 minutes for France. His most important shot of the night was a three-pointer that broke a 64-64 tie and ignited a 7-0 run down the stretch that sealed the victory.
“I thought I was a little bit more involved offensively tonight and that helped me find my groove, find my rhythm,” Fournier said.
The match was also noteworthy because it was the second of a back-to-back, which rankled the Knicks’ swingman, the Pride of Saint-Maurice. Fournier had made news by publicly petitioning FIBA to stop scheduling these back-to-back games in the tournament.
“It’s the EuroBasket and we have back-to-backs. Back-to-backs are very hard. And back-to-backs in the NBA and back-to-back in the EuroBasket is two different things,” Fournier told Eurohoops.
A captain of the French National team, the 29-year-old Fournier argued that players need time between games to recover and the current schedule sometimes leaves them with less than 24 hours to do so. “Every game is more important. From the very first minute until the last one you play very hard. Physically, it’s a big challenge. We are about to have our second back-to-back. So four games in five nights? It’s tough.”
Despite the tough slate, Evan is conducting himself admirably at the Euro. After a lackluster opening against Germany, he has increased his averages to 15 points and three assists in 29 minutes per game.
In the France v. Lithuania contest, Evan’s fellow Knickerbocker but Euro adversary, Rokas Jokubaitis, scored 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting in 28 minutes.
The Knicks acquired the 21-year-old Jokubaitis in the 2021 NBA Draft. This year, he won the prestigious EuroLeague Rising Star Award and played well in a reserve role for FC Barcelona, the 2022 Copa del Rey champions.
In 30 games for Barca, the 6’4”, 194 lb Rokas averaged 7.8 points and three assists in 17.8 minutes. The lefty (yes, another one!) hit 57% of his threes on 1.2 attempts per game.
After his encouraging performance with Barcelona, in a competitive ACB Liga, many Knicks fans were eager to see how the young guard would perform against NBA competition. We may need to temper our expectations and practice patience with this prospect, however.
Jokubaitis appears to be struggling somewhat at the Euro tourney. He has averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 assists in 25.5 minutes per game and connected on only 31% from downtown (4-of-13). He has gone 8-for-10 from the charity stripe, at least.
We’ll have to wait at least another year before we’ll see the play-making Lithuanian at Madison Square Garden. In May, Marc Berman reported in the New York Post: “Despite his progress, The Post has learned the Knicks are heavily leaning toward letting him stay in Spain for next season. That would give the 21-year-old Lithuanian another year to polish his game and get stronger.”
Knicks fans, try to catch Rokas in action on your TVs while you can. On Saturday, Lithuania will play Spain and France faces Turkey. Good luck in the rest of the tourney, fellas.