Adia Mathies comes into the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star weekend with what Kentucky All-Stars Coach Steve Helton calls "that target on her back."
Wearing the No. 1 jersey as Miss Basketball, she figures to get extra attention from the fans Saturday in Indianapolis and especially Sunday in Louisville. Mathies led 2009 state champion Iroquois and will play for the University of Kentucky this fall.
"I'm somewhat used to it," Mathies said. "I've been playing since the sixth grade, so the cameras and the media and all that attention on me ... I'm getting used to it. So it's not that big of a deal."
The big deal this week for Mathies and her teammates is preparing for the Indiana All-Stars. Indiana is led by its own Miss Basketball, Skylar Diggins from South Bend Washington High School. Mathies said she didn't know a great deal about the Indiana team.
"(Coach Helton) says they've got some height a little bit, but other than that, I'm just as clueless as everybody else," Mathies said.
Helton, Scott County's head coach, acknowledged that Indiana has a lot of Division I signees, and said it's fun working with the talented Kentucky athletes and then watching them play.
"(Indiana is) very talented on paper, and that's like our kids. We're talented. It's just going to be a great opportunity for two good teams to go against each other and see what happens in a short turnaround. (With a) Saturday-Sunday matchup, there's not a lot of time to make adjustments between games," he said.
Helton said he's impressed with Mathies' versatility and explained how that can help Kentucky.
"I think Adia can get up and down the court really well," Helton said. "She's a great athlete. She knows how to get to the rim, and that's a great attribute she brings to the table for us. Her penetration allows openings for other players."
Helton coached Mathies last year when she was a member of the junior All-Stars, who scrimmaged against the seniors to help the older players prepare.
"He's a nice guy. I'm glad I got to play for him," she said.
When coaches agree to work with the All-Stars, Helton said, they coach the juniors one year and the seniors the next. Though junior All-Stars are not guaranteed to make the senior team, Helton said the first year gives coaches a chance to work with that class ahead of time and become familiar with a sample of the top players.
"It's tough just to put them together one night and say, 'Hey, let's play together,' but we're really wanting to push our seniors with some talented juniors as well as keep an eye on that next group of kids. It kind of gives us a step ahead for next year," he said.
Mathies averaged better than 16 points and 11 rebounds last season for Iroquois, which finished 33-1. Helton said she has done a good job representing the state as Miss Basketball.
"She handles it well," he said. "She's very quiet and very confident in her skills, and she's been a pleasure to coach this week. Hopefully leading into Indiana ... I think she'll step up to the challenge and really make things happen for herself along with making things happen for her team. She's the total team player."
Mathies said being a member of the team is a positive experience.
"It's very humbling to be a part of this. I played against them (her All-Star teammates) in high school basketball, so I know most all the girls. So it was very nice because I already had a little bond with them," she said.