SALT LAKE CITY ó The way the U.S. media portrays Reggie Evans, itís as if he never existed prior to this season.
Itís almost akin to the way basketball gets treated in Canada, which is to say itís viewed by conventional media as an afterthought.
But a curious phenomenon has played out two games into the Raptorsí four-game trip, the teamís first extended stay away from home this regular season.
It first surfaced in Sacramento, when the Raptors tipped off their Western swing Monday night, and it followed Wednesday here in Utah.
On a team short on quotes and colourful characters, Evans has become the centre of attention.
Not one to shy away from any challenge or microphone, Evans at times becomes perplexed when the line of questioning turns to his incredible rebounding totals to begin the season.
Whether it was in Sacramento or Salt Lake City, people are trying to find reasons why Evans is leading the league in rebounding one week into the season, why heís been able to haul down boards against taller foes and keep possessions alive for the Raptors.
Itíll be foolish for anyone to suggest Evans can continue on this Dennis Rodman, Moses Malone line clip, but itís just as foolish to suggest that Evansí revival has come out of nowhere.
What many have forgotten, which is understandable given the Raptorsí unforgettable finish to last season, was the foot injury Evans suffered last pre-season that basically rendered him useless.
On a more polished team with more accomplished rebounders, thereís no way Evans would bring a 16.3 rebounding average into Wednesday nightís tip against the host Jazz.
Evansí career high was posted in 2004 when he played in Seattle, where he averaged 9.3 boards in averaging a career-high 23.8 minutes.
And letís be perfectly honest: Given his offensive shortcomings, on most teams Evans would be coming off the bench and not starting, which is what heís been asked to do in Toronto and will continue to be asked to do in the immediate future.
The Raptorsí next-best rebounder, based on numbers anyway, is a tie between point guard Jarrett Jack and centre David Andersen, each averaging 4.0.
Also keep in mind that Evans was nearly traded to Charlotte this off-season, is in the final year of his contract and heís on a team that already has made a huge financial commitment to Amir Johnson and has drafted Ed Davis, a fellow power forward who remains inactive with a knee injury.
During his career, Evans has had multiple double-digit rebounding nights, but nothing compares to his blazing start to this season, three games and three double-digit games, including a Raptors club-record tying most boards in a quarter (10) and most offensive rebounds in a game (10) in Torontoís 111-108 loss to the Kings.
ďI kind of feel like my old self again,Ē Evans said in describing his physical conditioning.
When itís pointed out that last seasonís prolonged absence led to Evans being virtually ignored by the media, he grudgingly nods his head in approval.
ďMinutes,íí Evans is quick to add when trying to pinpoint his accelerated start.
Itís not exactly a Hedo Turkoglu ďballíí response, but it does go a long way in shedding some light when one considers Evans is averaging 31.3 minutes.
ďReggieís special. He knows his role and he knows itís the only way he stays in games,íí head coach Jay Triano said.
Whatís more remarkable about Evansí start is that he has only turned the ball over once.
No longer is he looking to put the ball on the floor or look to shoot when given an open look because Evans knows heíll quickly be relegated to the bench.
Evans is enjoying the moment and being in the spotlight, all the while knowing that things can change.
If anything, heís made a name for himself, or at least heís re-established himself to the U.S. media thinking he had disappeared.