CHICAGO — Chris Eversley has a life goal of acquiring as many countries' stamps as possible on his passport.
The Walter Payton College Prep graduate's current occupation — professional basketball player — should help him do just that.
"Overall, I'm extremely excited," Eversley said Friday before leaving on a airplane for Southeast Asia. Eversley said he wants "to become well rounded with world cultures, and this is another step toward that. ... One of my strong suits has always been to just pack up quick and follow my dreams, and that applies here."
Eversley is the second Payton College Prep alumnus to sign a professional contract, according to athletic director Arlene Bertoni Mancine, joining Charles Hawkins, a former Chicago Force Arena Football player.
"It feels great, it's always fun for me to break the stereotypes of my high school and college being strictly academic," Eversley said. "I've been blessed enough to reach success at both levels and graduate well good grades as well."
Eversley said part of his contract consists of receiving his own home, unlike his college apartment, which he shared with seven roommates.
Eversley said he chose the Dragons after his agent was introduced to the team's coach, Ariel Vanguardia, through a mutual friend.
"Everything seemed to be a good fit," Eversley said.
Eversley guided seventh-seeded Cal Poly to the Big West tournament championship and a victory over Texas Southern in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to top-seeded Wichita State.
Eversley, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, scored 18 points in the Big West tourney's championship game en route to being named the tournament's MVP after his team pulled off three upsets to claim the title.
Eversley's family lived in Roseland during his time at Payton College Prep. Eversley, who averaged a team-high 13.6 points per game, was a bit surprised Cal Poly picked up the tournament title. The Mustangs (14-20) were seeded seventh but defeated second-seeded U.C. Santa Barbara 69-38 in the quarterfinals before topping top-seeded U.C. Irvine 61-58 in the semifinals.
Cal Poly, which qualified for its first-ever Division I NCAA tournament, became the lowest-seeded champion in the 39-year history of the Big West tournament.
At Payton, Eversley averaged 19.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for his career. In 2009, he became the school's first graduate to sign a national letter of intent with a Division I men's basketball program when he committed to Rice. He spent a season in Houston before transferring to Cal Poly.
Eversley's father, Michael Eversley, was a standout guard at Chicago State and played for the Bulls during the 1979 season. His mother, Nina Leonard, guided Long Beach State to the NCAA tournament West Regional finals in 1983 and 1984.
Eversley credited his parents, plus his former teammates and coaches at Cal Poly, for his success.
"I'm glad I could help put us on the map," he said.
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