Islander Basketball Player Passionate About Team, Family, Community

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: January 17, 2020

Islander Basketball Player Passionate About Team, Family, Community
Dae Dae Evens is a member of Islanders Women's Basketball at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi who is focused on helping others.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In the blistering heat of a South Texas day last summer, a woman walking along the sidewalk had no shoes. Most passersby gave little notice, but one did stop to help.

Suspecting the barefoot woman was homeless – and hungry – Dae Dae Evans says she gave her a pair of shoes and bought her some food.

Evans, a member of Islanders Women’s Basketball at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is focused on helping others, and being part of a larger effort to help feed the homeless is definitely on her “to-do” list.

“I’ve kind of been working toward it, but I don’t know how to expand it,” Evans said. She may start working with friends who also want to help others, perhaps on weekends.

Evans is in the midst of her senior season on the team, and is completing her studies as a media production major, in anticipation of graduation this May.

Known for her tenacity and hustle on the court, Evans is a four-year starter for the Islanders. Basketball is a longtime passion. Her stepfather noticed her ease handling a basketball at age 6, encouraged her, and she has been playing ever since, whether in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) or on school teams.

“I fell in love with the game,” she said.

At 5’7”, she was occasionally told she was not tall enough to compete, which only made her more determined. Her stats show her height is no problem – last year she scored 282 points for the Islanders with 127 rebounds, 66 steals, 49 assists and seven blocked shots. 

Evans was also able to turn a terrible experience into a source of motivation. As a self-identified survivor of sexual violence, Evans uses her feelings to help motivate her on the court.

“I use basketball to take my anger out, especially on defense,” Evans. “It just made me stronger, and it made me grow as a woman.”

Evans was a standout player at Bellaire High School, leading the team to a Houston ISD Championship her senior year. Averaging 17.5 points per game, she caught the eye of scouts and received several college offers. A former childhood teammate of hers, Tiara Matthews, encouraged her to come to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and the two reunited as freshman players for the Islanders.

Another reason Evans chose A&M-Corpus Christi was to remain near her family in Houston. She has four brothers and two sisters. One is her twin, Jonnashea, nicknamed Nay Nay, similar to Evans’ nickname, Dae Dae (her given name is Donnashean). Nay Nay has very similar interests in media productions as a student at Houston Community College. Evans said the two plan to collaborate on creative projects.

“My family is everything to me,” Evans said. “I work hard for them every day.”

As a media production major, Evans enjoys both being on camera and working behind the camera in production. She has produced several original short films for her YouTube channel (dae2X) that show her comedic talent as well as her creativity in production.

“I want people to see more of my personality,” Evans said. “I’m beyond goofy. I like dancing, too. They get to see who I really am.”

Many people have helped Evans along the way. Her scholastic coordinator, Gionna Jackson, has been a big help. Evans considers Islanders Associate Head Coach Roxanne White her “mom away from home.” Her biggest inspiration comes from her mother, Latrenda Driver, and grandmother, Leola Driver.

“They are my support system, to this day. They come to a lot of games,” Evans said. “I get a little emotional when I see them at my games. It makes me feel really special.”

Aside from being away from her family, Evans said the biggest challenge for her coming to the Island University was balancing the demands of school and sports, especially during her first year.

Next step for Evans is to explore the prospects of playing professional basketball overseas.

Her advice for a beginning freshman?

“Even though it’s going to get harder, each semester, you have to take it step-by-step, day-by-day, no matter what,” she said. “At the end of all of this, there’s going to be some glory. It will be worth it.”