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Great Dane grad playing pro in unlikely place

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By Aaron Cheris

Sports Editor

[email protected]

September 1, 2015

Photo provided by DJ Evans. After a successful career at UAlbany, DJ Evans (left) played in Switzerland’s top league last season. For this upcoming season, Evans will be heading to Africa.
Photo provided by DJ Evans. After a successful career at UAlbany, DJ Evans (left) played in Switzerland’s top league last season. For this upcoming season, Evans will be heading to Africa.

 The last time DJ Evans stepped on the floor as a Great Dane, he had the game of his life.

Listed at 5-foot-9, Evans was the smallest player on the court when the University at Albany played top ranked University of Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2014.

In that game, Evans was the star. He finished with 21 points to lead all scorers as his college career ended with a 67-55 loss to the Gators in Orlando.

His performance on the game’s biggest stage opened doors for Evans, and his performance was recognized for his grit and dedication.

After that game, legendary baseball star Chipper Jones tweeted:

Now, Evans is taking his game to the next level. After graduating in 2014, Evans recently began his professional career in Europe.

In early 2015, Evans got an opportunity to play in Switzerland for Fribourg Olympic, and he jumped at the opportunity.  “One day, I got a call from my agent that a team needed a point guard because one of the point guards for the Swiss national team got hurt,” Evnas recalled. “That’s how I ended up playing for that team.”

After a brief stint in the Swiss second division where he averaged 38 points a game, Evans was called up to the top league in Switzerland, and it was nothing like he ever experienced before, both on and off the court.

“It was a different style of play. The tempo is pretty much the same but you have more experienced players,” Evans said. “You have a lot of guys who have been playing 10 plus years professionally. The basketball IQ is pretty high. I’m quicker than a lot of guys, so I was able to dominate that way.”

Off the court, the adjustment was a little more difficult.

“It felt like another world. The food was different but I had to adjust. I learned to speak a little French by finding things I could eat and learning them,” Evans said. “The first day they were trying to give me horse but I denied it. I told them where I’m from, we don’t eat horse.”

While his pro career was just getting started, Evans’ old team was making a run to remember. Evans’ good friend and former teammate Peter Hooley sent UAlbany to the NCAA Tournament with a buzzer beating shot that made national headlines. Evans was watching, and he couldn’t be more proud.

“It was priceless,” Evans said of watching that shot. “I was pretty amped up. Just to see that and experience what I experienced and see what those guys did. It was unbelievable.”

Now, Evans is taking his talents to a place he has never been to before: Morocco.

“It’s going to be a totally different culture and basketball atmosphere,” Evans said of his upcoming move to Africa. “I’m just excited to have the opportunity.”

Evans’ season in Morocco starts soon, and whenever he puts on the uniform, he knows it probably won’t be worse than his final uniform at UAlbany.

“The uniforms overseas are pretty different because they have all the sponsors. They find a way to put the sponsors on the shorts. I have a lot of words on my shorts,” he said. “It looks pretty weird, but I like them. They actually look better than the two-toned uniforms, I have to say.”

Evans is leaving for Morocco this week. His former team’s season doesn’t start until November.

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