Game of life: Former UNLV player Earl Evans had brief NBA career

Evans, an Edmond resident, played under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV, then played 36 games for the Pistons. He died on Christmas Eve.
by Scott Munn Published: January 7, 2013

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:

*Edmond resident Earl Evans, 57, played college basketball at Nevada-Las Vegas under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian. Evans averaged 16.7 points in 55 games for the Runnin' Rebels. He was an eighth-round draft pick in 1978 by the Detroit Pistons; the 6-foot-8 forward played 36 games in a reserve role for the Pistons, averaging 4.4 points and 2.1 rebounds. Evans' career was cut short by injury. He is still considered a high school legend in Texas. He was named state Player of the Year and Parade All-American in 1974 out of Port Arthur-Lincoln, where he averaged 28.6 points and 19.5 rebounds as a senior. Evans originally signed with USC, then transferred to UNLV. He died on Christmas Eve of an apparent heart attack.

*Budding stud athlete Jett Smith attended Covington-Douglas Schools. He played baseball, basketball and football, excelling in each. Smith played for a championship T-ball team; defensive back for Covington-Douglas' pee-wee football team; and basketball for the Perry YMCA. The highlight of Smith's young career was shooting a buzzer-beater, though he once attended the Oklahoma State Basketball Camp and won the coveted Hot Shot Award. Jett died Dec. 21 at age 7.

*Leo Surko, 87, was an Amsterdam, N.Y., native who spent most of his adult life in Tulsa working for American Airlines. He played for the maintenance facility's championship bowling team. Surko was also an usher at University of Tulsa basketball and football home games. A fan of the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and the Tulsa Drillers.

*Teddy Woolman, who played football and basketball at Tulsa Cascia High School, died at age 18 on Christmas Eve.

*Oklahoma City resident Becky Latimer, 60, enjoyed racing motorcycles. She once traveled to Australia to offer support to a drag racing team.

*Nichols Hills resident Jerry Love was a board member for the Oklahoma Arabian Horse Club. She and daughter Paula showed Arabians around the country, winning several national championships. Jerry died at age 72.

*Car enthusiast JR Schneider, 61, attended every Indianapolis 500 race since age 12. The attorney was a member of the BMW Car Club of America and helped organize the annual Oktoberfest for the national chapter.

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