If you visit Salem, Connecticut you'll find the home of another brother-sister duo. Kastine Evans who is now playing for the University of Kentucky women's team. Down the hall in the home there's R.J. Evans who takes his place for NCAA traditional power UCONN.
The two may or may not make it to 'The Hall' but there's a guarantee they will have an impact on lives somewhere in the world. More on that later.
They both began their high school careers in similar fashions. Father Ray Evans, formerly of Ohio State and the New York Jets, had a personal slogan "play to stay." It began with R.J., a sophomore QB on the football team at near by Norwich Free Academy. He was holding a clipboard keeping stats when the top two quarterbacks left the game with injuries. Evans stepped in and on his third play from scrimmage fired a go ahead touchdown pass to then tight end Matt Shaughnessy. Evans was the starter for the rest of his high school football career. Today Shaughnessy is in his 4th season with the Oakland Raiders.
Little sister Kastine was also on the bench of the NFA basketball team as a freshman. A teammate was ill before a game. The younger Evans stepped in and took over the game dishing out assist and hitting key baskets. She became a starter from that day on. That began a trek that would lead her to a remarkable high school career. She was a three-time first team all-state player averaging 20 points a game as a junior and senior. She won back to back state tourney MVP awards. Also two state championships. She was the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year in 2010.
Kastine was the 67th rated player in the country, there were many scholarships on the table but she chose the University of Kentucky. "I loved the coaching staff and school during my visit. "she said. "I felt as though they really cared about more than just basketball."
Majoring in business management she adjusted to college life rapidly, making the Athletic Directors Honor Roll 2010 as a freshman also SEC 1st year Honor Role.
This past summer she took a trip with some teammates and friends to Ethiopia. It was an eye opening, life changing experience. "The poverty touched me. Things were so different. It cost about one hundred twenty dollars a year to go to school and the students or families have to pay it. Some junior high and high school kids have to work for years to get one year of education. It showed me how fortunate I am. I saw why everyone was trying to get to America. It seemed like that's everyone's goal."
After nearly two weeks in the country the younger Evans did remarkable thing before when she boarded the plane with just a small carry-on bag and her laptop computer. She left the rest of her belongings to those who needed them more.
Big brother R.J. entered his college career hotter than July . He attended Holy Cross University. At 6-4 with a body of cast-iron steel he was a dominant force playing in the Patriot League he was eight time freshman of the week. He left Holy Cross averaging 12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 3 apg, playing under three different head coaches.
"Anytime you do something like that eight times that says you're an incredible athlete," said Chuck 'The Ironman' Hayes of Los Angeles.
He excelled academically. He completed his economics degree in three years. With no masters program, he transferred to UCONN to attain his MBA and is currently playing for former Crenshaw high stand-out Kevin Ollie, who is in his first year as head coach following the Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun. Even though UCONN had some academic ill regularities he felt comfortable close to home. His first game as a Husky was in Germany at an Air Force base. "Our military men and women sacrifice so much for our country," said Evans It was great to give them a distraction."
On sister Kastine , "She beat me in a game one time and I am doing my best to never let that happen again.We text each other four to five times a week I always feel good after I read her messages."
Photo Credit: Earl Heath.