Dynamite guards Dana Evans and Carlik Jones came up big in their final seasons for Cardinals basketball. Both wear No. 1 on their jerseys and both were the top players on the court for their respective teams. Coming off the end of the regular season, the two reflected on their time as Cardinals and shared what they’re aiming for next.

Dana Evans, senior guard

We all know COVID has wreaked havoc on this season, but how has the team overcome and what makes this season special?

I think what makes this season so special is how you have to be able to adjust and move on. This is a quick turnaround for games. You never know who you’re going to play next, so you’ve just got to look forward to the positive things, as in we’re still able to play
this game. Take it game by game because you just never know when the last time is you’ll be putting on a Louisville jersey.

Speaking of the last time you put on a Louisville jersey, you’re a senior. You’ve had your last home game. When you’re thinking back on your time at UofL, what has playing at Louisville done for you?

Louisville has done a lot for me. It’s helped me grow into a woman and helped me grow up pretty fast. Coming from high school, I didn’t know a lot of things I know now. I wasn’t as mature. Coach (Jeff) Walz has helped me develop into a better basketball player. I’ve had a lot of people (from the women’s program) chiming in on my career and helping me to be the best player and the best person I could possibly be. I pretty much have favorite memories from every year – my freshman year would definitely be getting to the Final Four and the ACC Tournament Championship. My sophomore year, I would say beating UConn in front of 17,000 fans. My junior year was bonding with the girls. I still talk to some of the seniors (from the 2019-20 team). So far my senior year has been being ranked No. 1.

You’re getting quite a bit of recognition – you’re in the running for almost every major award out there. You’ve been playing basketball since the fourth grade; what does it mean for you to get this recognition now?

It definitely feels good because my whole life I’ve been underestimated. I’ve been told I’m too short, I’m too small, I wouldn’t be able to play at this level, I wouldn’t be successful. It was a lot of things I “wouldn’t” do. So just proving people wrong and doing things that hadn’t really been done means a lot to me. It means a lot for me and my community that I came from because I feel like a lot of people look at where they’re from and how they came up and kind of doubt their skills. But I’m here and I feel like I can show a lot of young people, a lot of young girls that…you can do something. Proving people wrong feels good, especially when you know your capabilities and you’re confident in yourself. But you have to continue to just put in the work. 

So, we’ve talked about the recognition you’re getting, but there’s one accolade we haven’t mentioned yet: You’ve got the best lashes of any player out there. How did that become your signature look?

Honestly, I would have never thought that I would be known for eyelashes. I started getting into the eyelashes in high school – just something new. So then I brought it here and it was just a huge thing everybody loved. Everybody started to get them and it
kinda blew up from there. I didn’t expect it but it’s pretty cool now. You can still be yourself to the core – you can still show that you like to be girly girl and you can still look nice even though you’re playing a sport. So it’s just showing people that you can still be yourself no matter what.

A local sports blog recently published a column proclaiming you should be on the Mount Rushmore of Louisville women’s basketball. What did you think about that?

That honestly was huge. I came here to be the best person and best player I could possibly be and for people to start saying I could possibly be one of the best players to leave Louisville – that’s huge.

Who would be on your personal women’s Cardinals Mount Rushmore?

If I can include myself, I’ll go myself, Asia Durr, Angel McCoughtry and Schoni (Schimmel). The next would be Myisha (Hines-Allen) and probably I’ll go Sam Fuehring.

What comes next for you? What are your future goals?

I have a lot of goals. Getting drafted and making a WNBA team. Obviously I would love to win Rookie of the Year (in the WNBA) but just making an impact would be big for me. Getting a tryout with the U.S. Olympic team. Playing overseas. And winning the WNBA Championship. One day maybe playing on the All-Star team. And one day, obviously, being the MVP of the league – that’s years to come. But that’s a lot of different goals I have.

(Editor’s note: Evans was named ACC Player of the Year shortly after this interview and was drafted by the WNBA’s Dallas Wings in April.)

Carlik Jones, graduate transfer guard

We all know COVID has wreaked havoc on this season, but how has the team overcome and what makes this season special?

You know, through everything, I think it’s been pretty good. Of course, for me and some of the freshmen, we didn’t get to experience Louisville how it really is with the fans or hanging out with regular students; it’s more so been hanging out with teammates. But I think we’ve been handling it pretty well. It really made the team a lot closer, just spending what feels like 24/7 together, so even with COVID and all the madness that seems like has been going on, it’s been pretty good.

As a transfer, you got to be a Cardinal for one year. Tell a little about what your time at Louisville has meant to you.

It’s really meant a lot. Especially going through the transfer portal, I had certain things that I wanted and certain concerns I had that any person would have going to a different school for a year. Like you’re worried about like the coaches want you here, but does the team want you here? But guys started reaching out to me when I first committed to Louisville and it was like as soon as I got here, we hit the ground rolling. You know, I probably wasn’t even in my dorm for 24 hours before the guys were talking about hanging out and getting food. So I just really appreciated how those guys accepted me with open arms. I look at this team, the coaches, the staff, like a family. I’m definitely glad I chose Louisville.

You said earlier the guys made you part of the team. They elected you co-captain in your first year, so it’s clear they respect you and know you pretty well. So, since it’s your last year, let’s talk about senior superlatives – class clown, best dressed, all that. What do you think your teammates would vote you?

Hmmm. I’m a really goofy guy. Definitely easy to talk to. I’ve definitely had teammates come up to me and ask me about things I’ve already been through because I’ve done four years of college and I’m a little older. So, it’s kinda like they would vote me the Big
Brother. I would say funniest, but we’ve got a ton of goofy guys on the team so I doubt they would say funniest for me. I’d say there isn’t one guy on the team who’s not goofy.

Speaking of superlatives, you’re up for quite a few other awards this year – your first year in a Power 5 conference. How does it feel to get this kind of recognition?

It’s a great feeling. Transferring in some thoughts that come to your mind like, it could be a good year or it could be a bad year. To receive some of the accolades I’ve been receiving, it’s definitely a blessing. But I credit my coaches, I credit my teammates. We compete every day in practice. We make each other better. They don’t let me get comfortable; they don’t allow me to get a big head. But it is a great feeling to get all these accolades especially when I thought that I did deserve them when I was at Radford and I thought maybe the school wasn’t big enough for me to receive them.

It seems like you kind of play with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder.

Yes. I just think it helped me coming in. When I first transferred, I got some backlash from it, people thinking that I made a mistake. Seeing that stuff on social media, hearing things people were saying, it did nothing but make me work harder. It made me want to prove that I could do it on multiple levels, and I can do it in what’s arguably the best conference in college basketball. It motivates me. Playing with a chip on my shoulder usually has positive outcomes.

Samuell Williamson called you Mariano Rivera in an interview, and you admitted you had to look Rivera up since, coming from Cincinnati, you were more of a Reds fan. So, who are your favorite Reds players?

Oh, if we’re going all time that’s a tough one because I like a lot of people. When Ken Griffey Jr. was there he probably would have been my favorite. I just thought he was the man. And Pete Rose. They would probably by my two favorites.

What’s next for you? What are your future goals?

I plan to further my career and see if I can go play at the next level, whether that is the NBA or overseas. Honestly, if that doesn’t work out, you know I will definitely look forward to coming back and being a Cardinal for another year. I’m just taking it day by day; I don’t really have any final decisions on what I will do after this year.

(Editor’s Note: Jones declared for the NBA Draft and signed with an agent in April.)

Erica Walsh
Erica Walsh is the marketing director for the Office of Communications and Marketing. Her job lets her share UofL’s good news in all avenues of communications including UofL Magazine, advertising, content marketing and branding. Walsh joined UofL in 2014 after previously serving as the public relations specialist at Indiana University Southeast. Prior to her career in higher education communications she was an award-winning newspaper reporter. Red is one of her favorite colors and it’s a good thing, too, because she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University and her master’s in communication from UofL.