PEMBROKE — Purnell Swett senior guard Natalie Evington put pen to paper Monday to make it official — she will play for her hometown school at the next level.
Evington signed to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke women’s basketball program, four weeks after announcing her commitment to play for the Lady Braves.
“Natalie epitomizes what we look for in a student-athlete in the recruiting process,” UNCP coach John Haskins said. “She is an outstanding person, student, and basketball player. Her work ethic and ability to shoot the ball will be a great asset to our program. We are excited that Natalie has decided to join us.”
Evington will become the first player from a Robeson County high school to play for the Braves women’s basketball program in recent history.
“It just felt like home,” Evington told The Robesonian when she announced her commitment. “The coaches always made me feel welcome. I met the girls on the basketball team, they were really nice. So it just felt right. … I love my community around here, and I know I’ll have a lot of support, since I’m close to home and people can come watch me play.”
The 5-foot-6 Evington is averaging 18.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game through 13 games of her senior season, with the Rams entering play Tuesday at 12-1. Evington surpassed 1,000 career points in December and is the Rams’ all-time leading 3-point shooter. She helped lead Purnell Swett to a 25-1 record last season, with United-8 Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and Robeson County Shootout championships in 2021 and 2022.
“(UNCP coach John Haskins) and those guys did a good job of letting her know how important she was,” Purnell Swett coach Kalen Eddings said. “I know as of late, their love for her has kind of grown; she’s been shooting the ball great and playing well, and they made her a priority — and she felt like she was a priority, she felt valued.
“I think they’re getting a knock-down shooter that can shoot the ball a lot of ways. … Her shot-making is crafty and she knows how to make shots a lot of ways.”
Evington also had offers from Meredith and William Peace, along with Division-I interest from USC Upstate, Charleston, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian, among others. In addition to basketball, Evington has played tennis in high school; she teamed up with Nyla Mitchell to win the United-8 Conference’s 4A doubles championship in October.
Evington is the second member of UNCP’s 2023 class to sign, joining South Mecklenburg guard Anastasia Sinclair.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.