By Joe Pantorno, Staff Writer
One of the Pride's youngest basketball stars, freshman forward Shante Evans, has been demonstrating that she is one of the top players in the CAA all year and is up to the challenge of bringing Hofstra deep into the postseason.
The six-foot West Chester, PA native has been raising eyebrows even before she started gracing the court in the Mack Sports Complex. At Henderson High School, Evans posted gaudy numbers, averaging a double-double throughout her four years with her most impressive season coming as a senior when she averaged 28.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. The McDonald's All-America nominee was ranked the fifty-fourth best player in the graduating class of 2009 and was recruited by multiple schools, including Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Temple.
"I got recruited a lot to the point where I didn't open some letters," Evans said. "When you're looking for colleges, you want a school that has everything and Hofstra had everything. I love the academics, the coaching staff, the team, I get to play D-I basketball and I get a good education."
The freshman made her presence known quickly during the first game of the season when she led the team in points (17) and rebounds (15) in a 77-60 win over Buffalo on November 16, 2009. She was awarded a starting spot shortly after and has played in all 30 games this season, starting 23 of them.
For some coaches, starting a freshman is a risky proposition, but head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey knew that the Pride needed Evans in the lineup. "She definitely to me was a diamond in the rough," Kilburn–Steveskey said. "She was so important to me and was a huge focus in our recruiting."
Kilburn-Steveskey also realized the value of her forward and sees her potential. "She definitely could be one of the best, if not the best who ever put on a Hofstra uniform," said Kilburn-Steveskey. "I think she is making a name for herself right now. When her three point shot starts coming out, that's her next phase."
Evans is indeed making a name for herself as she leads the Pride in points per game (13.7) and rebounds per game (9.2). Her impressive numbers have vaulted Evans into contention for CAA Rookie of the Year, though she has some tough competition from Delaware's Elena Delle Donne. Delaware's six-time CAA Rookie of the Week is averaging 26.9 points per game, best in the nation, but that does not intimidate Evans.
"She's a phenomenal player and it's rare that she misses a shot," Evans said. "It's been an honor playing against her, but I've wanted that award since the beginning of the season."
Despite achieving early success and the likelihood of post-season accolades, Evans is staying focused on her game. "Pressing against Jess Fuller, Marie Malone and the other girls push me to play better and harder. Shooting with Coach after practice helps a lot too," Evans said.
Evans also has her future mapped out. "Well, I'd like to go pro," she said. "Whether it be overseas or in the WNBA, whichever comes first I would love to go."
If Evans can continue to build on her early success and become consistent, Coach Kilburn-Steveskey's prediction, that Evans may be the greatest to wear the Pride's blue and gold, will likely come true.