Dana Evans has a message to deliver about the 2021 WNBA rookie class:
“Understand who we’re playing behind.”
For Evans, that’s Courtney Vandersloot, the best passing guard in the WNBA and one of the best to ever play the game.
Evans was named to the 2021 WNBA All-Rookie team Tuesday afternoon along with Aari McDonald, Charli Collier, Didi Richards and Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere. Onyenwere led all WNBA rookies with 8.6 points per game and was the only rookie to average at least 20 minutes per game (22.5).
Her message came in response to critics who have said this rookie class hasn’t done much all season.
“I want to speak for our rookies,” Evans said. “This is not an easy league. Any rookie that made a roster this season is in a good position because it’s not easy.”
Evans began her career in the league with a point to prove. After leading Louisville on an Elite Eight run and establishing herself as one of the top guard prospects in the 2021 WNBA Draft, the expectation was that Evans would be taken in the first round.
Instead, she fell to the second and was taken by the Dallas Wings with the 13th overall pick. The Sky took Shyla Heal with the eighth pick. By June, Heal was gone in a trade that sent her to the Wings plus draft assets in exchange for Evans. It was clear right away Evans fit in with the Sky’s identity.
“Growing up in Gary a lot of people get overlooked,” Evans said. “When I had an opportunity to show who I was, I took advantage of it. That’s the same approach I’m taking here.”
In her rookie year, Evans played in 23 regular-season games for the Sky and averaged 3.9 points and 1.2 assists in less than 10 minutes a game. Her stats might not reflect it, but her ability to keep things running when Vandersloot needs a break is what makes her so valuable. That and her confidence to knock down big-time shots in clutch moments.
All season, Evans has made critical momentum-shifting plays when Vandersloot was on the bench.
As the Sky prepares for Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals against the Sun on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN), Evans' role will remain the same and when Wade taps her, she’ll be ready.
“Before I go to sleep I always scroll through our sets,” Evans said. “I’m staying a step ahead so I know what to do when I get in the game.”