Steadily improving Dwayne Evans ready for big senior year at SLU
ST. LOUIS — Porter Moser did his homework on Dwayne Evans.
The former Saint Louis University associate head coach and now the head coach at Loyola University Chicago, Moser also did the legwork when recruiting Evans in the summer before his senior year of high school.
“Dwayne’s one of those guys where you appreciate what he does when you watch him day-in and day-out,” Moser says. “… In recruiting, let’s say you go to a tournament in Orlando and you pop in to see him one game but might not be able to see him the next two. You have to see him every game.
“I followed him every single game. I swear to God. I watched almost every game the entire summer and I stat-ed him and he almost got a double-double every game that whole summer. This kid just gets it done. I love guys like that.”
When Evans made a verbal commitment to SLU in September of his senior year at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill., he had other offers, though not many. He picked the Billikens over Toledo, Drake, Kent State, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, all of which offered scholarships. Northwestern, Illinois State and others expressed interest but didn’t make offers.
It’s safe to say Evans, now a 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior small forward, has proven a lot of people wrong in his first three seasons at SLU and has made a lot of college coaches regret not taking a closer look.
Evans has established himself as one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 Conference and is the undisputed leader of a SLU squad that has made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and won a school-record 28 games a year ago.
“He keeps getting better,” SLU coach Jim Crews says. “He’s really bloomed into a confident player. He really plays to his strengths. He’s kind of a great example of our team. Usually, we keep it pretty simple and he’s kept it simple and has really mastered simple. That’s why he’s been pretty successful. He’s strong on the boards and he’s strong inside. He complements it with outside shots, but he doesn’t overshoot things. He’s got a nice stroke. He plays to his strengths.”
Evans has improved each season, as have the Billikens.
He was named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team as a freshman after averaging 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as SLU struggled to a 12-19 record. He averaged 7.9 points and 7.3 rebounds as a sophomore as the Billikens went 26-8.
Evans was a first-team all-conference selection as a junior, when he led SLU in scoring (14 points per game) and rebounding (7.7). He was stellar down the stretch, averaging 17.9 points per game over the final two months as the Billikens finished 28-7, won the A-10 regular-season and tournament titles — he was named the most outstanding player of the A-10 Championship — and, as a No. 4 seed, advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
SLU’s super senior, whom Moser calls an “awesome mismatch guy” because he can take bigger guys outside and smaller guys inside, has continued to work on his game at every opportunity, including on a trip with Athletes in Action to Ivory Coast in Africa this summer.
“Really improving everything over the summer and over on my trip to Africa,” Evans says. “Just ballhandling. Outside shot. Decision-making off of ball screens. I mean, really, just expanding my entire game.”
The kid who was overlooked by so many college coaches while in high school has continued to expand on his versatile game, working on his weaknesses until they develop into his strengths.
“It’s been every year,” Evans says. “I feel like I’ve made at least small strides every year that I’ve been here and, hopefully, I’ll show more improvement this year.”
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“He’s improved his jump shot, his ballhandling, his strength,” Moser says. “He doesn’t have that wow factor if you just catch him in one game. He has the wow factor if you watch him a number of games and can see what he brings.”
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