Former head coach Evans hired to Kilbert’s staff

From 2005-09, Danny Evans was on the bench as the head coach of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s basketball team. Evans was let go by the university, but three years later, Evans will return.

On Tuesday, new UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said he will hire Evans as one of his assistants.

“He’s been working on an interim basis, but the plan is to hire him,” Kilbert told the Pine Bluff Commercial. “Just got to get his paperwork squared away and get him full time.”

Evans, who was the coach of the Ridgway Christian boys basketball team this past season, is glad to be back in the college ranks.

“I am just happy to be back in college basketball,” he said. “I will miss not being able to go back to Ridgway, but this is another step, another opportunity.”

When Evans was the coach of the Lady Lions, he took over a team with just seven players on its roster. In his first year, the team made it to the SWAC tournament for the first time in the school’s history.

The second year, the Lady Lions made it to the semifinals of the tournament and the team won 10 games each in his third and fourth year, which is the most in the history of the program since moving to the NCAA Division I ranks.

Cary Shelton was Evans’ replacement and he resigned this past March after the team won just two combined games the past two seasons. Kilbert, who was the Mississippi Valley State women’s basketball coach, was hired to replace Shelton in May.

Along with Evans, Kilbert hired Ashley Brown as the second assistant coach on his staff. Brown was a graduate assistant for Jackson State last season and played for Kilbert at MVSU.

“I think it was a steal for me to get Danny and Ashley,” Kilbert said. “I asked Danny to work with me and he accepted and hopefully we can turn this thing around. … Ashley is very well rounded with the way the SWAC conference is played.”

After Shelton resigned, Evans was one of the applicants for his old job. Evans did not get the position, but he did not ask Kilbert to be the assistant coach. It was the other way around.

“I went to him about the position. … I know what he is capable of,” Kilbert said. “It’s kind of like having two head coaches. I am going to use that to my fullest advantage and get every bit out of him that I can.”

Evans coached against Kilbert during their time in the SWAC and is happy to be working with him.

“Nate and I are pretty close and we will be working together,” he said. “UAPB is a place I already know. I recruited here, I know the people here and Pine Bluff has been good to me.”

There are no players on the roster that were coached by Evans still, but senior-to-be Chi Chi Okwumabua was recruited by him.

“I am so excited. He recruited me and this is exciting that I am going to be able to finally play for him,” she said. “I saw some of his coaching style and I really like it.”

Evans is also excited at the chance to coach a player he recruited.

“When I signed her, I knew she was the person that could take it to the next level,” he said. “So I get to rekindle that.”

Okwumabua led UAPB with 11.3 points per game, which ranked her seventh in the SWAC.

With Evans as his assistant, Kilbert just has one thing left to do before the upcoming season.

“I just think it was a great hire and I pat myself on the back for that,” he said. “For him to say he is going to work alongside me means a lot. Now just get things kicked off and see how good we can be.”