On the first day of the early signing period, Atascadero High star senior Mary Kate Evans signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team next season.
Evans was named a first team all-CIF Southern Section player, was on the PAC 7 first team and was a first team all-county selection by The Tribune last season as the Greyhounds finished second in the PAC 7 and advanced to the Southern Section semifinals.
Last season, Evans averaged 19.3 points, 13 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.9 steals per game.
Evans’ collegiate career was in serious jeopardy during the quarterfinals of the playoffs this past February when she was bumped going for a rebound and landed in an awkward position.
Evans tore her meniscus in a bucket-handle tear, which is a tear around the rim of the meniscus, causing the central portion to displace into the joint. The surgery in March would require six months of rehabilitation.
However, Cal Poly coach Faith Mimnaugh believed in Evans’ ability to recover and offered a full-ride scholarship while Evans was on crutches in Mimnaugh’s office.
“Cal Poly was always my first choice,” Evans said. “And when coach Faith offered me a scholarship, it motivated me to work harder in the offseason. It showed she believed in me and that she was committed to me as a person.”
Evans kept her word with her strong verbal commitment and did not take any official or unofficial visits to any other school. Location was key as well, as her brother goes to Cal Poly and her parents will be able to watch every game. She plans on majoring in environmental engineering with an emphasis on water pollution.
“Evans is a versatile guard-forward,” Mimnaugh said in a news release. “She can shoot the 3 or post on the block. She also has decision-making skills and can begin the fastbreak from the rebound. She’s not the power player that (impending graduating senior Kayla) Griffin is, but has similar skills and more length,” Mimnaugh said in a news release.
Any doubt her knee was full strength was erased when she played a full season of volleyball for Atascadero without an issue.
“In my 25 years of coaching, she’s been one of the best players I have ever coached,” Atascadero coach Jim Stecher said. “The most important part about her is she is very coachable. All the younger kids watch her because they know being like her is how you get successful. She’s extremely dedicated and leads by example.”
“We’ve had practice for three weeks and she’s stronger now than she was before the knee injury. No other 6-footer around can run with her or handle her perimeter shooting. Cal Poly got a real jewel.”
Evans has not confirmed with Mimnaugh her position on the Cal Poly team next year but expects to be splitting time between small forward and shooting guard.
“The pace is so much faster at the college level. It comes down to skill and discipline, but it’s a good challenge for me and one I think I can handle,” Evans said.