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WATCH NOW: Region native Dana Evans selected 13th overall by Dallas Wings in WNBA Draft
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PRO BASKETBALL | WNBA DRAFT

WATCH NOW: Region native Dana Evans selected 13th overall by Dallas Wings in WNBA Draft

From the ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week series

GARY — Dana Evans waited 75 minutes, slipping out of the first round of Thursday’s WNBA Draft before she heard her name called.

“It was really hard (waiting) but God don’t make mistakes, so this is obviously where I’m supposed to go,” Evans said.

The Gary native was selected 13th overall by the Dallas Wings, and Evans was moved to tears as she hugged her mom, Shwanda, and father, Damon, realizing a lifelong dream come true. Close friends and family erupted as her name was called at a small party at Marquette Pavilion.

“I was like, finally, I didn’t know how much longer I was going to have to wait,” Evans said.

Dana Evans' journey to WNBA marked by competitiveness, Steel City determination

Entering Thursday, Evans was a consensus top-eight pick in mock drafts by ESPN, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report. Dallas selected three players before her: Texas forward Charli Collier (No. 1); Awak Kuier, of Finland, second overall; and Chelsea Dungee, a guard out of Arkansas, fifth.

Evans’ motivation is simple: “Stuff like this. Just being overlooked all the time,” she said. “I’ve just always had a chip on my shoulder and have always been overlooked.”

She was second in Indiana Miss Basketball voting, despite being the only player from the state named a McDonald’s All-American or winning gold with USA Basketball in the Under-18 FIBA games in Chile her senior year at West Side.

Evans used that as motivation at Louisville, where she made history becoming the first player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to win Sixth Player of the Year and follow that up by becoming ACC Player of the Year. She won that award as a junior and senior. She also helped lead the Cardinals to four straight ACC regular-season championships, played in a Final Four as a freshman and Elite Eight as a senior.

The 5-foot-6 guard became a two-time All-American and averaged a career-high 20.1 points per game last season. She’s played as the point guard and off the ball, and proven she can do either.

“I can do a lot of things on the floor on the offensive and defensive end,” she said. “I’ll bring two different aspects of my game. I can get to the basket, I can shoot the mid-range and the 3, and I think I can disrupt on the defensive end.”

Dallas finished ninth with an 8-14 record in the Wubble (bubble) last summer, finishing one game out of the eighth playoff spot. The WNBA features 12 teams.

Former Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale averaged team-highs of 22.8 points and 3.4 assists per game last season. Evans and Dungee are the sixth and seventh guards added to the roster, for now. That brings the Wings’ roster to 14, which will need to be cut to 12 before the season’s start May 14.

Her speed and agility figures to be her biggest asset, and helps her gain an advantage making up for her height.

“Dana is most explosive and where you see her speed is her ability to start, her first three steps. Her agility is faster than most people because she understands how to keep her feet underneath her and she understands the angle she needs to get to to get you on her hip, and then you’re never going to catch her,” said Kaiti Jones, Louisville’s strength-and-conditioning coach.

Evans recorded the fastest three-quarters court sprint speed in at least 10 years of record keeping at Louisville, Jones said. She also lifts nearly three times her weight on the trap at 405 pounds and has a 51-inch recorded vertical, or up to her chin, Jones said.

Playing alongside star talent such as Hailey Van Lith, current WNBA players Asia Durr, Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook — all of the New York Liberty — helped prepare her for the next level.

“I think she liked that in AAU and that platform when she played with other great players, and that’s why she’ll be great in the WNBA,” Louisville associate head coach Sam Purcell said, “because she had that mindset where, she could’ve gone somewhere and scored 35 points per game but, she came here to be challenged every day outside of games, and not in it.”

Even with planning a draft party for close friends and family, Evans didn’t take the day off of work as she starts her new career.

“I would just say because that’s what got me here — putting in the work so much — so why not do it on draft day,” she said. “Why not take my mind off some things because I was really nervous, anxious, so why not get in the gym and do what I’ve been doing?”

Evans had a simple message for the country: “I’m ready,” she told ESPN’s Holly Rowe, who reminded Evans that the 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Crystal Dangerfield of the Minnesota Lynx, was also a second-round selection.

The payoff for Evans' hard work and the eruption and excitement made it worth the wait.

“I wanted to do it in Gary just to shine a positive light on it like I always say because there’s a lot of talent that gets overlooked,” she said. “I wanted to do it in Gary to make it seem like home.

“It means a lot seeing everybody come out and supporting me. Over the past four years they’ve been following my journey at Louisville, so it just means to have everybody come out and support me.”

Her message to those who look up to her and want to follow in her footsteps is simple: “I would just say keep working hard, never give up, never doubt yourself, stay true to yourself and just continue to put the work in.”

Gallery: Dana Evans through the years of her career

Dana Evans is set to become a WNBA Draft pick. Here's is her career in photo form over the years.

Photos by Times Staff and the Associated Press.

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Louisville guard and West Side grad Dana Evans tied a career high with 29 points Sunday in a Sweet Sixteen win over Oregon at the Alamodome in…

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Louisville guard and West Side grad Dana Evans celebrates a score against Oregon Sunday during the first half of a Sweet Sixteen win in the wo…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans and West Side grad moves the ball past Marist forward Willow Duffell during the first half Monday in the first rou…

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Louisville's Dana Evans (1), shown driving to the hoop against Pittsburgh on Feb. 18, led the Cardinals past Notre Dame on Sunday to clinch th…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans, a West Side grad, led Louisville to a fourth straight regular-season ACC championship and is a National Player of…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans, a West Side grad, had a website and docuseries created to help promote her in her quest for National Player of the Year.

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Louisville's Dana Evans, a West Side grad, went from the ACC Sixth Player of the Year to two-time ACC Player of the Year and All-American. She…

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Gary native and Louisville guard Dana Evans was recently named a Preseason All-American.

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Louisville's Dana Evans (1) drives downcourt against Notre Dame on Thursday. The West Side graduate scored a team-high 17 points in the Cardin…

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Gary native Dana Evans dribbles the ball for Louisville in a 67-66 win over Kentucky. Evans leads the sixth-ranked Cardinals in points, assist…

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Gary native Dana Evans was named an AP All-American on Thursday. She was also the ACC Player of the Year.

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Gary native Dana Evans shoots a layup for Louisville in a 67-60 loss at Ohio State. Evans leads the sixth-ranked Cardinals in points, assists …

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Louisville guard and West Side graduate Dana Evans (1) tries to strip the ball from Connecticut guard Katie Lou Samuelson (33) during the firs…

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Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, left, talks with guard Dana Evans, a West Side grad, during the second half of a second-round game against Mi…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans, a West Side grad, battles Michigan forward Naz Hillmon (00) for a loose ball during the first half Sunday of a se…

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Pittsburgh's Jasmine Whitney, left, and Louisville's Dana Evans, a West Side grad, chase after a loose ball during the second half Sunday in P…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans elevates to shoot against Virginia Tech forward Regan Magarity, left, and Dana Mabrey, right, during the first hal…

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Louisville's Dana Evans, also a West Side grad, sits in the locker room Friday following a 73-63 loss to Mississippi State in the semifinals o…

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Louisville's Dana Evans, also a West Side grad, drives to the basket against Mississippi State's Morgan William during the first half in the s…

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Louisville head coach Jeff Walz has a word with Louisville guard Dana Evans (1) during the first half of their game against Boston College  in…

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Louisville's head coach Jeff Walz instructs Dana Evans during the second half of an NCAA tournament regional final against Oregon State on Sun…

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Louisville's Dana Evans celebrate a basket during the first half of the team's NCAA tournament regional semifinal against Stanford last Friday…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans, also a West Side grad, drives past the defense of Boise State forward Joyce Harrell on Friday during a first-roun…

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Louisville guard Dana Evans, a West Side grad, drives around Notre Dame forward Kathryn Westbeld during the first half Thursday in Louisville,…

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Indiana's Tyra Buss, left, and Louisville's Dana Evans, also a West Side grad, dive for a loose ball during the first half Thursday in Bloomington.

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Dana Evans, a Gary native and West Side graduate, was The Times' Female Athlete of the Year in 2016-17. She was an Indiana All-Star and McDona…

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McDonald's All American East Team's Dana Evans against the West Team in the McDonald's All-American game at the United Center in Chicago.

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McDonald's All American East Team's Dana Evans shoots a three-pointer against the West Team in the McDonald's All-American game at the United …

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McDonald's All American East Team's Dana Evans, second from right, at the McDonald's All-American game at the United Center in Chicago.

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McDonald's All American East Team's Dana Evans during half time at the McDonald's All-American game at the United Center in Chicago.

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The East's Dana Evans, a West Side senior,  lines up a 3-pointer Wednesday against the West Team in the McDonald's All-American game at the Un…

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Members of the sectional champion West Side girls basketball team hang out at the McDonald's on Fifth Avenue in Gary on Thursday afternoon. Th…

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McDonald's planned on buying the meal of the West Side girls basketball program on Thursday, to honor Dana Evans, right, for making their All-…

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West Side's Dana Evans is announced before the start of West Side's 59-44 loss to Northridge Saturday in the LaPorte Regional at LaPorte High School.

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West Side's Dana Evans reacts near the end of West Side's 59-44 loss to Northridge on Saturday in the semifinals of the Class 4A LaPorte Regional.

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West Side's Dana Evans gets rallies her team after a Northridge turnover in West Side's 59-44 loss to Northridge Saturday in the LaPorte Regio…

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West Side coach Rod Fisher talks to his team during a break in action at a Lakeshore Classic game against John Marshall in Dana Evans' senior …

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West Side's Dana Evans glides in for a layup against John Marshall during Friday night's Lakeshore Classic game at Gary West Side.

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West Side's Dana Evans shoots over a John Marshall defender during the first half of Friday night's Lakeshore Classic game at Gary West Side.

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West Side’s Dana Evans drives past John Marshall’s Tekia Mack in the first half during Friday night’s Lakeshore Classic contest at West Side.

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West Side’s Dana Evans, center, stands with her parents, Shwanada, left, and Damon on Tuesday after picking Louisville as her college choice f…

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West Side’s Dana Evans sports her Louisville Cardinals cap Tuesday night after she verbally committed to play basketball there.

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Dana Evans, center, sits with her parents,  Damon, left, and Shwanada before announcing she'll play basketball at Louisville.

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West Side girls basketball coach Rod Fisher, left, stands with Dana Evans on Tuesday night before the star point guard picked Louisville for t…

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Dana Evans scored eight points in Team USA's win over Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship in Valdivia, Chile in 2016.

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West Side's Dana Evans shows her gold medal after Team USA's U18 team won the FIBA Americas Championship on July 17 in Valdivia, Chile.

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The now-senior averaged 35.8 points per game as a junior, picking up 5.0 assists and 5.3 steals as the Cougars won a sectional title last seas…

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West Side's Dana Evans is The Times player of the year.

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West Side's Dana Evans tries to find an opening to the basket against Penn's defense Saturday morning at the LaPorte 4A Regional Tournament.

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West Side's Dana Evans tries to find an opening to the basket against Penn's defense Saturday morning at the LaPorte 4A Regional Tournament.

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West Side's Dana Evans tries to shoot around E.C. Central's Tai-yanna Jackson on Saturday night in the Lowell Sectional championship.

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Gary West Side's Freshmen Dana Evans reacts after

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West Side's Dana Evans passes against Logansport's Whitney Jennings in West Side's 52-51 win in The Times Region Roundball Rumble at the Hammo…

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