Iroquois confirmed on Monday it’s hired alumna and former Kentucky Ms. Basketball A’dia Mathies to coach the team this coming season. The Raiders finished 0-18 and forfeited their final seven games in 2015-16.
As a player, Mathies led the Raiders to a state title in 2009 , and went on to star at Kentucky from 2009-13.
“The biggest thing (in hiring her) was her passion for Iroquois,” Iroquois Athletic Director Matt Brown said. “We definitely understand that she wants to be here and I feel like she wants to be one of the ones that will be able to come in and turn the program around. That was very evident to us.”
After graduating from college, Mathies was selected 10th overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, though she only played one season there. She also played a handful of games in 2014 for Good Angels Kosice in Slovakia and a year later for Ramat Hasharon in Israel.
Mathies spent last season as an assistant to former head coach Greg Schackert, gaining her first bit of coaching experience. She also served as the Iroquois track and field head coach last spring.
”I’m very excited. It’s an honor,” Mathies said. “It means a lot to me to come back to the school that I love so much, and hopefully try to change the program around to do the things that we did when I was playing.”
Mathies finished her Iroquois career as the school’s most decorated player. A varsity starter at guard since the sixth grade, according to her bio page on UK’s athletics website, Mathies totaled 3,113 points and 2,583 rebounds in her high school career. She averaged 17.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.9 steals and 1.9 blocks per game as a senior, leading the Raiders to a 33-1 record and a 55-47 win in overtime over Elizabethtown in the state title game.
Mathies takes over a program in tatters. Under Schackert last season, the Raiders were forced to forfeit the aforementioned games after the roster dropped to only five players by February. Though Schackert started the season with 18 players, many were lost to either work, injury, or academic issues.
In the seven years since Mathies led the Raiders to the state title, Iroquois hasn’t had a winning season.
“It was frustrating,” Mathies admitted. “You can’t expect everyone to be as great as we were when we played. We just had great talent. I think the most frustrating point was that it wasn’t my team. I had been there and I know the type of girls that go to Iroquois, so maybe I could help them out in certain ways.”
Brown, who began his role as athletic director this summer, said the goals moving forward are to get more girls excited in playing basketball at the school, and eventually competing for district and regional titles.
”There’s a lot of people who want it to be done in one year or two years, but it takes time to build a championship program,” Mathies said. “We were together for seven years until we could get it done, so it’s going to take some time. I think then it’s (about) getting the right players, getting some middle school talent, like how we came in at middle school and stayed together in high school.
”Hopefully players will buy-in and know that I had a good career after high school and college, so they’ll believe me when I say it can be done.”