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Darnell Evans talks Georgia State Commitment and Moving to DI



After a freshman season spent averaging 18.8 PPG before eclipsing that with a top-5 finish nationally in scoring during the 2023/24 campaign, it’s evident that Caldwell (D2) transfer Darnell Evans is ready to play at the highest level of college basketball.

With aspirations of moving up to join a Division I program and contribute to a winning culture, it’s why the 6-foot Amityville, NY native entered the portal this offseason.

“Obviously, most athletes’ dreams are to play at the Division I level – the highest level,” Evans said. “Everybody has a different road and a different plan, I had to go the Division II route and make a name for myself there. I stayed in the gym, put the hours in to get better and be number five in the nation in scoring. I put the work in and I think that I’m ready for the Division I level.”

Not only a well developed scorer, Evans was an effective contributor across the floor last season managing 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG and 2.2 STLPG while shooting 47% from the floor.

Ultimately, it made him one of the offseason’s most coveted Division II transfer portal recruits with Evans receiving interest from programs such as Charleston, Towson and Milwaukee early into the process.

On May 9 however, Evans announced his commitment to head coach Jonas Hayes and the Georgia State Panthers.

Despite being over 900 miles from where he attended High School, Evans said Georgia State felt like home and was the perfect fit to continue his development on the court.

“They were very welcoming; it just felt like home with the coaches and the staff,” Evans said. “I had great conversations with all of them and Georgia State plays my style and that obviously played a big factor. Everything was the perfect fit and I think we have a good chance to be at the top of the Sun Belt Conference this year.”

Evans’ addition marks one of six offseason transfers already set to join Hayes and the Panthers next season.

Among those include Northern Illinois wing Zarique Nutter, UNC Asheville grad transfer Nick McMullen, Radford’s Justin Archer, former Missouri State forward Cesare Edwards and Seton Hall freshman Malachi Brown.

As one of the more inexperienced players joining Georgia State’s roster, particularly at the DI level, Evans said Hayes and Co. have extensive plans for his development with multiple years of eligibility remaining.

“They spoke with me and my uncle and [the staff] have big expectations for me,” Evans said. “Nothing is given and I’m going to have to earn it but they want me to do what I do. It’s the same game, just at a different level. I like to be coached hard and to just play through it all and so I think with this coaching staff, we’ll fit very well together.”

During his recruitment, Evans had the opportunity to visit Georgia State’s campus in Atlanta as well as the Georgia State Convocation Center where the Panthers play home games.

According to Evans, the expansive facilities and recently constructed arena where a major reason for his commitment, particularly coming from a much smaller Division II school.

“I was smiling the whole visit because it was a great experience,” Evans said. “The area looks amazing, the locker rooms, the campus, the dorms, everything was just amazing. Especially, with me coming from Division II, to experience that I was very humbled and grateful for that opportunity.”

Now, after two seasons at the Division II level, as Evans prepares for his first chance to be a part of a high-level Division I program, the two-time All-CACC First Team selection reflected on some of the most important aspects he learned at Caldwell.

After consecutive campaigns averaging double-digits in scoring while twice leading his team in assists, there were times when Evans was triple teamed by the opposition’s defense.

But as Evans pointed out, the Division II level is no joke and provided an opportunity to learn the speed of the college game before making that jump to join Georgia State.

“It was a great experience because it wasn’t easy,” Evans said. “[I was able to] learn the college pace, the bumps that they allow and just that playing at the college level is way different than high school. [Sometimes] I had to play with three defenders on me at a time so I learned to make the right plays and adjust to certain defenses thrown at me.”

As the Panthers look ahead to the 2024/25 season with a rebuilt roster under the program’s third-year head coach in Hayes, Evans is the ideal addition to grow with this program and help lift Georgia State back toward success.

While it’ll undoubtedly take some time for Evans to adjust to the Division I level, his high scoring prowess will make him an exciting watch for fans on a nightly basis in the near future.

“I’m an electrifying guard, I play defense, have athleticism and am fast,” said Evans. “Coach Jonas and everybody, they all want to win and that’s a big part of what I do. My freshman year at Caldwell we were 22-10, went to the NCAA Tournament and upset the No. 1 seed, so you know I love to win. [At Georgia State] I spoke to the coaches and everybody and we’re planning on getting back to that this year, winning and being one of the top teams in conference.”

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