Chiquita “ChiquitaE126” Evans has become the first-ever woman to be drafted to the NBA 2K League after she was picked with the 56th pick by the Warriors Gaming Squad.
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) March 6, 2019
The 30 year-old from Kentucky plays on the small forward position and will be looking to prove herself as one of the rotation players for Warriors Gaming.
Evans struggled to qualify for this year’s draft pool because of her gender, recounting in a profile video made by the league how male players refused to cooperate with her during the Combine after finding out she was a woman.
"For the first time ever I gave up something … people are saying I don't deserve to be here" – @chiquitae126
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) March 2, 2019
Even so, two women — Evans and Brianna Novin — were able to crack this year’s 198-player draft pool. As a longtime veteran of the competitive NBA 2K scene, Evans was expected to be picked during the draft regardless of her gender.
“I do feel like if I get drafted a lot more women will be interested and they will feel more comfortable with being themselves and going out here and competing. I can only imagine, you know, four or five years down the line, how many women would feel comfortable enough to go out here and compete,” Evans said in an interview with Kotaku prior to the draft.
The NBA 2K League’s inaugural draft class last year consisted of 102 men. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver notably called the lack of gender diversity in the league’s first season ”a disappointment for all of us so far.”
The league hoped to rectify that this year, citing efforts to diversify its player pool that started during its inaugural season.
Evans finally making the league will be a moral victory for women in esports who have struggled to earn the respect and legitimacy their male counterparts enjoy.