Dwayne Evans, right, of Neuqua Valley is the Honorary Captain of the DuPage County All-Area team.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
If your idea of basketball excitement is chest-pounding, jersey-popping, wide-mouthed shouting, please step away, folks. Not much to see here.
Dwayne Evans chooses his spots to emote on a range between slim and none.
The sights and sounds he creates are the smack of his big hands on composite leather from 10 feet high, a pass zipped to a teammate alone under the hoop, the swoosh and patter of a clean steal and coast-to-coast lay-in.
The tiny screech of another "W" chalked up? Evans is your man.
"Three conference titles - he's three for three on those," coach Todd Sutton says of history's winningest Wildcat. "Two for two on sectionals. He's doing pretty good."
Evans, captain of the Daily Herald 2009-10 DuPage County All-Area boys basketball team, is, as they say, the whole package. Minus the garbage.
"I've watched him so much the last two, three years in AAU ball (with Larry Butler's Illinois Warriors) and then obviously with the amount of success he's had at Neuqua Valley. Everything he does is about winning first," said Porter Moser, the 1986 Benet graduate who is Rick Majerus' associate head coach at St. Louis University. The Billikins won out over some 30 college programs that expressed interest in the forward, starting with Northern Illinois and ending with finalist Northwestern.
"He's a high-character kid, he's coachable, he's got a great work ethic, academically he fits. He checks a lot of boxes for the type of student-athlete we're trying to recruit," Moser said.
In Evans' family, education is a no-brainer. His father, also Dwayne, is principal at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City; his mother, Janice, is a financial manager.
Evans' sister, Janice also, is a former Neuqua hoops most valuable player who is a senior forward and co-captain at prestigious Washington University in St. Louis. She brought a 27 ACT score to Washington, the elder Dwayne Evans said.
"We were definitely about the academics first," he said. "You've got to be respectful - get it done and present yourself in a way that people can see you as a respectful young man who has a lot to offer."
The 6-foot-5 Neuqua Valley senior, who said he had a 3.65 cumulative grade-point average last he looked, has shown people quite a bit while becoming the rare three-year starter for the Wildcats.
Before he missed the last two games of the regular season with a strained Achilles' tendon, Evans averaged 16.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists. His length helped him snag 61 steals. His long arms (he can nearly reach up and touch the backboard flat-footed), leaping ability and quickness off the floor added up to 73 blocked shots.
Honorable-mention Coaches Association All-State as a junior and a two-time All-Area pick, Evans' 737 rebounds lead Neuqua's career list, Sutton said, and his 1,122 points trail only the 1,210 of Keelan Amelianovich, who became an All-America at Illinois Wesleyan.
"He is incredible on the glass," Sutton said. "More important than that is that he is the most fierce competitor I have coached. He has a different level that others do not have. He is great at practice and is always the hardest worker. He is also a great student.
"He is a better person than he is a basketball player, and he is a terrific basketball player."
He'll need to love the perimeter shot at St. Louis, but Evans' favorite aspects of the game at this point are passing and rebounding the ball. This feeds into his simultaneous desire to involve his teammates while snatching up every missed shot with a vengeance.
"I see assists as getting two people going," he said. "Say a guy makes, like, a no-look pass to someone under the basket. That gives our team points but you set them up, so both those guys are really benefiting from the confidence you give to both of them. I think that's a great uplift to any team.
"Rebounding, if you see one guy getting every rebound, all the other guys are either going to get really discouraged and not even try to go for rebounds anymore - which is usually what happens - or other guys on your team are going to say, 'Hey, I want some rebounds, too,' and try to outrebound you.
"I don't really let that happen on my team," Evans said. "I kind of consume most of the rebounds."
That's not selfishness talking. That's responsibility and awareness.
"You can't teach his feel to go after the ball," Moser said.
Always at least among the tallest players his age - at age 5 he bawled when told he had to play with older boys at a youth clinic his dad held at Dyett High School - Evans admitted to getting "kind of mouthy" when called for his fifth foul in a 58-56 win over Downers Grove South on Feb. 20.
He copped to a celebratory outburst after a pivotal steal and dunk against Naperville Central at the Oswego East sectional final last season.
Those moments are few and far between.
"I've never not respected him," said Lake Park coach Josh Virostko. "He never talks trash, he always carries himself respectfully."
The 18-year-old Evans, who away from the court enjoys golf, tennis and video games with his friends, uses "laid back, kind of goofy and confident" to describe his personality.
Those of us seeking basketball excitement watch Evans confidently drive the lane for an effortless finger-roll layup then go back to the defensive end with his usual laid-back, been-there-before demeanor.
We don't see the goofy.
"You step on the court, it's all business," he said. "But off the court I'm making people laugh in the locker room or catching up with friends and stuff. I just really like to have a good time. Off the court I'm not the serious guy I portray on the court.
"Thirty-two minutes out of your week, or however many days, I kind of dedicate that time simply to basketball. There's not really much to joke around about on the court until after the game."
The captain's list
1988-89 - Tyrone Parks, West Chicago
1989-90 - Wade Hardtke, Glenbard East
1990-91 - Roger Suchy, Glenbard North
1991-92 - Lance Broderson, Waubonsie Valley
1992-93 - Anthony Parker, Naperville Central
1993-94 - Adam Shafer, Downers Grove South
1994-95 - Eric Norberg, Downers Grove South
1995-96 - Cory Little, Addison Trail
1996-97 - Brian Wardle, Hinsdale Central
1997-98 - Henry Domercant, Naperville North
1998-99 - Tim Szatko, Naperville Central
1999-2000 - Drew Carstens, Downers Grove North
2000-01 - Kyle Kleckner, Downers Grove North
2001-02 - Derrick Clanton, Waubonsie Valley
2002-03 - Bobby Catchings, Neuqua Valley
2003-04 - Andy Mack, Lake Park
2004-05 - Bryan Mullins, Downers Grove South
2005-06 - Mike Capocci, Glenbard East
2006-07 - Mike Capocci, Glenbard East
2007-08 - John Shurna, Glenbard West
2008-09 - Drew Crawford, Naperville Central
2009-10 - Dwayne Evans, Neuqua Valley