(Photo of Dana Evans: Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After a long and illustrious four-year career with the Louisville women's basketball program, Dana Evans is finally heading to the next level. Following the Cardinals' season-ending loss to Stanford in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, the senior guard confirmed she would indeed be declaring for the 2021 WNBA Draft instead of taking advantage of the extra year granted by the NCAA.
Evans departs the program not only as one of the top players in school history, but one of the most decorated. She is a two-time ACC Player of the Year, is one of three Louisville players to ever be named a First Team AP All-American (Angel McCoughtry, Asia Durr), and is the winningest player in Louisville history.
During her tenure in Louisville, the 5-foot-6 guard native has built up plenty of good stock among WNBA scouts and executives. Of course, when you're the ninth-leading scorer (1,715), sixth-leading three-point shooter (37.7%) and sixth-leading assister (521) at a well renowned program like Louisville, it's hard not to.
"I think Dana had a very good career at Louisville. She's shown a lot of versatility playing both the point guard and the two guard positions," Indiana Fever head coach Marianne Stanley said during the WNBA Pre-Draft Media Conference Call. "She's someone who has demonstrated that she's not afraid of a big shot or a big moment, and that's something that all the very good players have in their arsenal."
The Gary, Ind. native has established herself as one of the top guard prospects and top scorers in this year's draft class. In 30 games during her senior season, she averaged 20.1 points, which led the Atlantic Coast Conference, as well as 3.9 assists with a 43.0% field goal percentage and 35.3% mark on three-point attempts.
All that being said, where is Evans projected to be selected in the WNBA Draft? How high can she go? What is her ceiling? What teams could possibly pick her up?
Texas forward/center Charli Collier has been pretty much penciled in as the No. 1 overall pick ever since she declared for the draft, and the same can be said for international prospect Finland center Awak Kuier at No. 2. Most mock drafts also have Tennessee wing Rennia Davis getting picked up at No. 3.
Now is when the top guards in the draft class will start to hear their name called. Most mock drafts have Arizona point guard Aari McDonald and Rutgers shooting guard Arella Guirantes as the top two guard prospects. McDonald made herself into a household name after leading the Wildcats to the title game, and Guirantes was one of the most consistent scorers in college basketball. It also didn't help that Evans had a prolonged shooting slump through most of the month of March.
After both McDonald and Guirantes are off the board, this is when we will most likely hear Evans' name be called. Her projected draft range is between picks six through eight, with the New York Liberty holding the sixth overall pick, the Dallas Wings with the seventh, and the Chicago Sky possessing No. 8.
Most Cards fans will see the Liberty in the mix, and immediately clamor for them to take Evans. After all, New York has former Louisville teammates Asia Durr, Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook all on their roster. In ESPN's latest 2021 WNBA Mock Draft, they actually projects the Liberty to select Evans.
But Louisville fans need to embrace the possibility this might not happen. In fact, both CBS Sports and SBNation are projecting that Evans will fall all the way to the No. 8 overall pick held by the Chicago Sky. Of course, there's no shame in that, as Evans would still be a top ten pick, plus ESPN women's basketball analyst Rebecca Lobo believes that would be a great fit for any guard taken with that pick.
"If you're a guard in this class, that would be a great place to go because you would definitely learn from one of the best in the game in (Courtney Vandersloot), and you would be able to have minutes without having all of the pressure that can come from running the show right away," Lobo said during the WNBA Pre-Draft Media Conference Call.
"I think (Chicago Sky GM/HC James Wade), if he does go with a guard at No. 8, will get a good one and will get one who will be in a great situation to learn as a rookie and get some minutes and play with a really great group of players who come in off the bench," she continued.
The 2021 WNBA Draft will be held on Thursday, Apr. 15 at 7:00 p.m. EST, and will be televised on ESPN.
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