Louisville basketball: Dennis Evans is “the best center in high school”

Kenny Payne, center, is greeted by his former coaches, Denny Crum, center, and Wade Houston, right, as Payne arrived in Louisville to taker over as men's basketball coach at U of L. March 17, 2022
Kenny Payne, center, is greeted by his former coaches, Denny Crum, center, and Wade Houston, right, as Payne arrived in Louisville to taker over as men's basketball coach at U of L. March 17, 2022 /

If there was one word that could describe Kenny Payne’s offseason accurately, it’d be: silence. Even media outlets learned it was difficult to report on the University of Louisville because it was hard to trust any information coming in or going out. The Louisville coaching staff has kept their decisions close to their chest.

Could their silence be the key to their incoming Top-5 recruiting class in the nation? It certainly seems that way. According to a source, the staff moves in silence because “if other schools knew what we were doing, they’d try to undercut us [the staff].”

With what we know now about the kind of talent Kenny Payne is bringing in, it’s no wonder why he didn’t want other schools or media to know who he was bringing in.

For example, one of the extremely talented athletes that is headed to Louisville is the former prized recruit of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Dennis Evans. Toward the end of February, he requested a release from his National Letter of Intent with the University of Minnesota.

Upon his release, he was quickly speculated to come to the University of Louisville. But, as we learned several times over the past few months, the information coming out around Kenny Payne and the Louisville basketball program was cloudy, simply due to the way the staff approached their offseason.

For about 11 days, the speculation remained nothing more than speculation, until it was announced that Dennis Evans scheduled a visit to Louisville. And three days later, the 7-foot-1 California native committed to Kenny Payne.

Big Red Louie had the opportunity to talk to his AAU coach, Elvert Perry, about what kind of player Dennis Evans is and what Louisville fans can expect to see out of him.

First off, his AAU coach’s nickname is “Kool-Aid,” which is a legendary nickname that deserves to be shouted out. Secondly, he gave us some insight into the type of person and player Dennis Evans is.

“Kool-Aid” didn’t have much to say about their departure from Minnesota, but ultimately it came down to things not working out in the Twin Cities. And once his recruitment was re-opened, all of the big-time schools in the nation came calling. Keep in mind, he’s only 17 years old, yet he is so talented that he is still ranked as the No. 3 overall center in the nation.

And there is a reason for that. Perry told Big Red Louie that he is up at 5:30 AM every day working out in the gym. He is not concerned about the NIL money or anything outside of school and basketball. “He’s a great kid and a great human being,” he said.

On top of all that, he is loyal. If he would have transferred to a college preparatory school, his media coverage would have been a whole lot more. But, he decided to stay at his regular high school, Hillcrest High School in Riverside, California. His Trojans team finished 17-14 last season, but it was not without an exceptional contribution from Dennis Evans.

In 27 games, he averaged a double-double with 14.7 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. And added 5.9 blocks per game, just because he felt like it. According to “Kool-Aid,” he is the best center in high school.”

"“Louisville is getting the Freshman of the Year. And we will be shocked how good his offense is going to be.”"

Evans stands with a 7-foot-1 frame and is widely known as an elite rim protector. So, we asked Perry about his offense.

"Perry responded, “We will be shocked with how good his offense is going to be. He has a left-handed jumpshot and shoots the ball like a small forward.”"

As a quip to the side, he also said “Forget that guy going to Kentucky.” Dennis Evans is the real deal and based on our conversation it’s evident why Kenny Payne wanted him on his team. He’s a high-character kid with an elite work ethic.

One more piece to the equation is Wade Houston, the man to the right of Kenny Payne in the featured image in the article. Wade Houston and Elvert Perry have known each other for a long time and Perry made it very clear that his respect for Houston is unwavering and unquestionable.

Wade Houston played for Louisville from 1963-1966 and was an assistant at Louisville from 1976-1989. His Cardinal ties run deep and he is one of us. And now, Dennis Evans will be one of us. Louisville fans are in for a treat when he dons the red and white jersey in the KFC Yum Center.