Three Former UK Hoops Players Sign Professional Contracts
LEXINGTON, Ky - Recent University of Kentucky women’s basketball graduates Kastine Evans, DeNesha Stallworth and Samarie Walker have signed professional contracts to continue their playing careers overseas.
Evans, a native of Salam, Conn., will play for the Leicester Riders in Leicester, England and will also work on a master’s degree in applied finance and banking at Loughborough University. She will leave for the United Kingdom on Saturday, Aug. 30.
During her four-year Kentucky career, Evans was a major contributor to the success of UK Hoops. She played in 139 career games - which ranks No. 2 on UK’s all-time list - finished with 766 career points and averaged a career-best 8.2 points per game as a senior. Evans helped lead UK Hoops to a Southeastern Conference regular-season title in 2012 and NCAA Tournament appearances in each of her four seasons, including three Elite Eight and four Sweet 16 finishes. She graduated in May of 2014 with a degree in business management with a minor in African-American studies, earning SEC Academic Honor Roll and Dean’s List honors each of her four seasons.
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to continue playing after my college career,” Evans said. “You never know how long you can play, and after attending WBCA's ‘So You Want to Be a Coach Program,’ I knew I was not ready to hang up my sneakers. I am very excited to be in Leicester, England and be with a new group of young women and a coaching staff who are working every day to win a championship. With this opportunity I am also able to continue my education and work on a master's degree. I am excited for the overall experience in another country and to be able to learn more about myself and grow each and every day.”
Stallworth, of Richmond, Calif., has signed to play with Universitario de Ferrol in Spain for the upcoming season and will leave for Spain on Sept. 1.
In just two seasons with the Wildcats, Stallworth became one of the best post players in the country. She became UK’s third straight WNBA draft pick as she was chosen as the No. 25 pick by the Connecticut Sun. She finished her collegiate career with 1,740 career points (812 at UK), 871 rebounds (417 at UK) and 15 double-doubles, a mark that ranks ninth on Kentucky’s all-time list. Despite having midseason knee surgery that kept her out of five games as a senior, she was a candidate for SEC Player of the Year and was on every national watch list for the nation’s best player. She earned multiple honors throughout her senior campaign, including WBCA Region 3 All-America Team, SEC All-Tournament Team, All-SEC Second Team by the league’s coaches and All-SEC honorable mention by The Associated Press. As a junior, she was named to the All-SEC First Team by the league coaches and All-SEC Second Team by the AP, and she was a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. She graduated in December of 2013 with a degree in family sciences and a minor in African-American Studies.
“I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to play in Spain,” Stallworth said. “This season is all about growth for me and playing with veterans will definitely help me. Thanks to the Big Blue Nation for all the support given to me throughout my years at Kentucky. I will always bleed blue!”
Walker is set to play for Stadium Casablanca located in Zaragoza, Spain and will leave the country on Saturday, Aug. 30.
“I am very grateful for this opportunity to play for Stadium Casablanca,” Walker said. “It has always been a dream of mine to play basketball beyond the college level and to also travel the world. I am very thankful for the support from my family, coaches and fans.”
Walker, a native of West Carrollton, Ohio, transferred to Kentucky in 2010 after playing one semester at Connecticut. She played in 96 games for the Wildcats with 80 consecutive starts and ranks in the top 10 on UK’s career list for double-doubles (fifth - 20), rebounding average (third - 8.1) and blocked shots (seventh - 96). She quickly made a name for herself midway through her sophomore season when she averaged 8.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, helping UK win the SEC regular season and earn a berth in the Elite Eight. She increased her averages to 13.3 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament run, earning her NCAA All-Regional Tournament Team honors. As a junior, she led the team in rebounding (8.1 rebounds per game), steals (72), field-goal percentage (.524) and blocks (56) and was named to the All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Defensive team by the league coaches. Last season, she averaged 8.7 points and a career-high 8.7 rebounds which ranked fourth overall in the SEC. Walker graduated in May of 2013 with a degree in merchandising, apparel and textiles.