(Kastine) Evans signs pro contract in England

Former NFA and Kentucky women's basketball player Kastine Evans of Salem signed a professional contract with the Leicester Riders of the Women's British Basketball League (WBBL). She leaves for England on Saturday.

Kastine Evans considered entering the coaching ranks after graduating from the University of Kentucky last spring.

But she wasn't ready to end her playing career.

"I was going back and forth," Evans said of making her decision. "I couldn't decide. But I still had the itch to play. Coaching is always going to be there if that was something that I wanted to do."

Evans, a former Norwich Free Academy standout, signed a professional contract last month to play for the Leicester Riders of the Women's British Basketball League (WBBL). She leaves for England on Saturday.

Her one-year deal includes paying for her to attend Loughborough University, where she'll work toward her master's degree in applied finance and banking.

"It's really a good opportunity for me," Evans said Wednesday. "It is allowing me to play and experience another whole country and it helped that my brother was there to have some familiarity."

Her brother R.J. played last season for the Durham Wildcats of the British Basketball League. He's considering his options for the upcoming season.

Over the summer, Evans worked out at University of Kentucky before returning home to Salem. She'll be busy packing her bags over the next couple of days.

"I'm a little nervous and have mixed emotions," Evans said. "But I'm ready to get there and get going. I'm excited."

The WBBL preseason is already underway. Leicester will participate in a preseason tournament in Sweden before beginning a roughly 30-game regular season schedule. The opener is set for Oct. 11.

Evans, a 5-foot-8 guard, expects the level of play in the WBBL, which was founded in June, to be below that of what she experienced at Kentucky. The league played at the semi-pro level last season.

"The level is pretty good," Evans said. "R.J. got to see some of the games (last season). He said it's not going to be as tough as SEC women's basketball here in the states but a Division I caliber with great athletes and great teams."

In her final season at Kentucky, Evans started 34 of 35 games and averaged a career-best 8.2 points while helping the Wildcats advance to the NCAA tournament for the third straight season. She majored in business management and minored in African American Studies and earned numerous academic honors.

g.keefe@theday.com

Twitter: @GavinKeefe

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