Whereas Derek Rose was ascending to NBA greatness, 25 minutes away, slightly woman in Gary was watching and watching her recreation after recreation. I used to be impressed along with his pace and explosiveness, the way in which he would drive to the basket. She would even have chosen the identical shirt quantity as Rose – No. 1 – and later in her profession she would select No. 11 to be near her inspiration.
Greater than a decade later, that little woman from Gary made her WNBA debut.
“I liked all the pieces he did,” Chicago Sky guard Dana Evans informed the Tribune. “Clearly I can shoot effectively 3, however I really like hitting the basket. I simply assume it was thrilling due to his pace.
“He was a shorter participant… He was kinda common sized. He had that benefit over him. He had that chip on his shoulder each time he performed. He simply knew what he needed to do. He was very decided and targeted. I simply liked him. “.
By the fourth grade, Evans participated in ballet and was ranked nationally within the 400-meter indoor monitor race, however he by no means performed basketball. She noticed an indication exterior her elementary faculty health club about ladies’ basketball trials and determined to provide it a attempt. Her father, Damon Evans, thought it was a joke.
“I believed she’d attempt cheerleading,” he stated with amusing. “And it was so pure for her. She would observe her older siblings to the health club. She simply took that.”
Dana remembers the second vividly.
“I did not have any pants or basketball shorts,” she stated. “I did not have any elite socks or nothing. However I used to be like, ‘You already know what, I am simply going to do it.’ And I informed my dad and he was laughing as a result of he was like, ‘You by no means educated,’ and I actually made the crew.”
I fell in love with basketball and instantly excelled. Damon and Dana imagine that her time as a ballerina and runner made her a greater athlete.
Damon used to take his daughter to Sky Video games. She was involved in basketball and was excellent, and he needed to encourage her to maintain going. Basketball was not solely a option to join along with his daughter, however he believed he was her future and would inform her how a lot he needed to play her for Sky when she received older in order that he may take part in each recreation at dwelling.
“She went to her first recreation at Chicago Sky both within the fifth or sixth grade,” he stated. “And I keep in mind they have been taking part in Sparks and Candace (Parker) did not play that match. I do not keep in mind what was occurring, however…[Dana’s]eyes simply lit up. And I knew that was her dream. As soon as we went one recreation, we saved coming again, and it was my pleasure.” I am glad to see her attain her aim.”
All through her profession, Evans relied on her father’s recommendation.
She stated, “I’m my father’s woman.” “My dad actually knew my life earlier than it actually occurred. Actually, he already knew what was going to occur. He knew how I used to be going to be in faculty. When he tells me issues, I all the time imagine in them as a result of they all the time come true. He is like, OK, he is already seen that.” “.
At 5 ft 6 ft tall, Evans has grow to be considered one of Gary’s prime basketball gamers. She was the primary woman from Metropolis of Metal to be chosen within the McDonald’s All-American Recreation.
When Evans was contemplating her faculty choices, her father informed her that Louisville was finest fitted to the place she can be and the participant she would grow to be. She joined the ACC All-Freshman in 2018. She then went from ACC Participant of the Yr in 2019 to ACC Participant of the Yr in her junior and senior seasons. In her senior yr, Evans averaged 20.1 factors and three.9 assists and fired 43% from the sphere and 35.3% in 3 seconds.
Then it was time for Evans to leap to the subsequent stage.
Damon was a Chicago sports activities fan all his life, and he needed his daughter to play in Chicago.
“I’ve all the time been a Chicago fan, whether or not it is the Bulls, the Bears or the White Sox,” he stated. “I imply, we stay in Indiana however we’re very near Chicago. We get all of the Chicago stops. So her going to Chicago was only a dream come true. Earlier than the draft, we talked about totally different eventualities and issues like that, and I informed her from day one, Chicago is the place the place I need her to go to him.”
The Dallas Wings picked Evans with the thirteenth choose within the 2021 WNBA Draft. The Wings, who have been deep in guarding, traded Evans for the skies in June—simply six video games into their rookie season. Damon Evans was proper once more: Dana might be becoming a member of her idol, Parker, and Heaven in Chicago.
For Damon, that was among the best moments of his life. For Dana, it was one other dream come true.
“I keep in mind watching Courtney Vanderslott and Sylvia Fowles,” she stated. “Now I play with them and play towards them. It is actually cool.”
Evans affectionately refers to Parker as “Mama Candice” as a result of she stated the 15-year-old veteran offers nice life recommendation.
In her first season with Sky, Evans performed 23 video games and was named to the WNBA All-Rookie Workforce after main the upstarts with 88.5% of the free throw share and ending second on the 3-point share.
The truth is, her three-point shot was a spotlight of Skye’s championship season. Evans performed quarter-hour in Recreation Three of the WNBA Finals towards Phoenix Mercury with Workforce Sky up massive. She hit three throws in a row after feeling like she was shot.
When requested if she revisited the second, she stated, “I had loads of it for some time. I used to be similar to, ‘Be you.'” why not?’ That was my mentality. So after I shot the primary photograph, I used to be like, “Okay, lastly.” Then the second hit. I am like, “Okay, it’s important to shoot once more.” I simply knew I used to be going to do it although. I knew that was good.”
Sky gained by 36 factors to take a 2-1 lead within the sequence. They gained Recreation 4 for the primary match in franchise historical past.
Her father was not stunned.
“She is a workaholic. She strives for perfection,” he stated. “She will not cease till she reaches this stage of greatness.
“I’ve watched her develop as a lady, as a basketball participant and as a human being. It’s totally inspiring to the younger ladies and men of Gary as a result of you do not get loads of glad tales right here. So to be somebody they will have a look at and say, ‘Wow, that is the man who made it.'” She had loads of issues stacked towards her, and to make that occur is a dream come true.”
He stated that his co-workers on the metal mill the place he works 12-hour shifts change shifts with him in order that he has entry to his daughter’s toys as a lot as attainable.
In Might, Jordan Model introduced that Evans had grow to be “the primary NBA or WNBA participant to win a championship in Chicago to signal with Jordan Model since MJ.”
And Evans, who additionally has an endorsement cope with OpulenceMD Magnificence, is simply getting began. Profitable a championship and signing with Jordan Model have been lifelong targets.
When requested about being seen as part of Heaven’s future, she paused for a second.
“I can not even provide you with a single phrase as a result of it is mind-blowing to me,” she stated. “Seeing folks actually imagine in you. As a result of I typically really feel like lots of people did not, however individuals who say you’re the future reveals that they imagine in you. They see one thing in you.
“And it simply makes me wish to preserve doing increasingly more and preserve working arduous as a result of I can see it. I can really feel it. I really feel like I am getting higher each day in observe with nice gamers and nice coaches. We’ve got a wide range of totally different coaches with totally different views. So I preserve going. In creating my recreation. I feel I can actually do some good issues.”
Along with Rose and Parker, Evans stated her favourite gamers are Kobe Bryant, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Diana Taurasi, and LeBron James.
She hopes someday to be on some woman’s checklist, and heaven is just the start.