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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Former NFA star emerging as a leader for Kentucky



Even as Kastine Evans is ready to play in her 105th game as a member of the Kentucky women’s basketball program the Wildcats’ head coach Matthew Mitchell still isn’t quite certain how he enticed a native of Salem, Connecticut to come to the heart of Southeastern Conference territory.However, with Evans playing an understatement yet pivotal role on Kentucky teams which have made back to back trips to the Elite Eight, it is truly a perfect match for both the former Norwich Free Academy star as well as Mitchell, one of the rising coaching stars in the women’s game.

“Kastine, I just tell you that it was God working there,” Mitchell said. “I don't know how in the world we ended up with a kid from Salem, Connecticut at Kentucky but we did. It was a really unusual recruiting process and it worked out for us so I think there was a little bit of Providence there that led her to Kentucky and she has been exactly what we have wanted a Kentucky basketball player to be.”

Evans, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, admitted that she was looking for a big-time program to be a part of but it was evident pretty early on in the recruiting process that it was not going to be the one in her home state.
“Although I didn't go to UConn, I wanted to go to a program like that is very dynamic and has a strong impact on women and really allows them to reach their full potential,” Evans said.

Evans has emerged as one of the leaders on a veteran Kentucky squad which is a role she didn’t play before until she arrived in Lexington.

“The biggest growth as a player has been my ability to lead and take on the task that not everybody wants to necessarily do,” Evans said. “It is hard knowing that you might not get the exact credit that you need but there are a few of us on the team who don't mind and just want everything that's best for the team and get all the glory through wins for our team.”

Evans’ offensive numbers are down from her sophomore season but she made perhaps the most important shot of her collegiate career when she drained a 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining and Kentucky clinging to a two-point lead in the regional semifinal against Delaware. That clutch shot aside, Evans’ most important role on the team comes on the defensive end as she provides relentless on the ball pressure on the opposing team’s point guard.

“In high school I played a lot of defense but it was different type of defense,” Evans said. “Coach Mitchell has specific things that he wants me and Bria Goss to do on the ball and disrupt their offense. That is something we work at really hard at and are really good at it when we have our mind right. We have to be mentally prepared to do a very difficult task which is very hard.

There is an interesting dynamic that the Evans’ family was dealing with on Monday as her older brother R.J. Evans played this season for the UConn men’s team.

Kastine said her brother had the time of his life in his one season with the Huskies after transferring from Holy Cross.

“Coming from a small school like Holy Cross he was able to really enjoy the big-school atmosphere and all the glory that comes with being at a big school that are financially able to do a lot of things that other schools aren't,” Kastine Evans said. “Also he got grad school paid for so he really has put himself in a good position as he is done with his collegiate basketball career.”

Kastine said she didn’t start squaring off with R.J. on the basketball court until her high school days.
“My dad used to work us out individually but because the men's game and women's games are completely different so he really tried to specify that for each of us,” Evans said. “I just learned intangible things like his work ethic, his character and how he was as a person.”




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