DeAngela Mathis felt a sense of relief after finally signing her nation letter of intent to play college basketball.
But what her new coach, Kristy Ward, said about Mathis' potential turned relief into excitement.
Mathis, named the state's Class 5A Player of The Year after leading Southeast to a state championship, signed Tuesday with Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Known for its run-and-gun, high-tempo offence, FSC was the 13th-ranked junior college women's basketball program last season and set a state tournament record with 124 points in one game.
"I think DeAngela is a phenomenal athlete and can do so many things with her size," Ward said. "We want to make her our three guard, which is our slasher to the basket. She is a very smart basketball player who knows how to score from the post or other areas of the floor."
The 5-foot-10 Mathis saw that 124-point victory over Indian River and felt it was tailored made for her.
"It's similar to what we played at Southeast. I went up there to work out with the team and felt right at home. It's a style I have played all my life," Mathis said.
Mathis had offers from several Division I schools, but they were not at the level she desires to play and decided FSC would be the best way to reach those heights.
Ward and Southeast head coach John Harder agreed.
"Playing here will open up many doors for her. She will get many opportunities to be seen by all different levels," Ward said. "She fits in with what we like to do, which is run and gun. We probably shoot more than anybody in the state."
A two-time Bradenton Herald Player of The Year, Mathis averaged 19 points as a sophomore and 16 as a junior. She turned into more of a playmaker last season with a stronger supporting cast and averaged 14.9 points per game.
"I feel that DeAngela is going where she should go, and I don't always have that feeling," Harder said. "She has wanted to be a Division I player since the day I met her. There is maybe a small piece of the puzzle missing, and that comes with size and experience on the college level. She is going to a school to complete the puzzle. Coach Ward is known for putting kids in Division I schools."
Mathis said the fast-paced style fits her perfectly, but the relationship she has with Ward was critical in her decision.
"I like the coach because she is a genuine, loving person. She makes you feel comfortable and does her best to comfort you in a good way," Mathis said.
REGION -- First-round region matches involving the Bayshore girls, Saint Stephen's boys and girls and Out-of-Door Academy girls were postponed by rain Tuesday. They will be played at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Bayshore and both Saint Stephen's teams will host matches, while ODA travels to Fort Myers Canterbury.
OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY 16, TAMPA PREP 4 -- Seniors Jeremy Herrin and Andrew Romano each scored four goals on Senior Night as the host Thunder earned a victory. Max Mann scored two goals for ODA
-- Herald staff reports