From the moment she led the Southeast High girls basketball team to a state title in 2014, DeAngela Mathis has had a plan to play big-time college basketball and then have a pro career overseas.
Mathis took a big step in that direction this week when she signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Lamar University, an NCAA Division I school in Beaumont, Texas, which is a member of the Southland Conference.
Many offers have been coming in for Mathis after she earned first-team Junior College All-American honors last season for Florida State College, where she averaged 17.8 points and 10.7 rebounds.
“I didn’t want to go to a big school and just be a number,” Mathis said. “The coach (Robin Harmony) also pulled me in. They ran an offense similar to what we did a FSC, and she is going to use me at a lot of positions, but probably most at the three. I am not expecting any guarantees. I am just going to go there and work hard. I was interested in going to a school where I can win a ring and get a good education.
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Mathis visited Tulsa, Texas State, Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She said she also received offers from Florida Gulf Coast, St. Joseph’s and the University of Illinos.
“DeAngela will have an immediate impact on our team,” Harmony said. “She can score, she’s a rebounding machine and has leadership skills. She’s a special player. Any time you can get an All-American player, it’s huge. Not only is she a tremendous basketball player, she is a good student and a great person.”
Lunacy is a good way to describe a proposal by the FHSAA to change the way teams are selected for the postseason playoffs. Essentially it calls for a committee of whoever that might be to rate schools according to strength of schedule while getting bonus points for playing bigger schools.
The organization that runs high school sports in Florida apparently hasn’t kept up with the issues in college football in which a committee tries to pick four teams for the postseason Final Four. There are only maybe 10 teams that have a real shot, so the field is pretty small, and it’s extremely difficult. In Florida, there are about 750 schools that fall under the FHSAA umbrella.
A better idea would be to reduce the classifications in all sports. It creates too many districts and penalizes some schools, such as Braden River, which finished first in its district in softball and baseball but didn’t get a home game because it is in a district with teams from Hillsborough County.
The Manatee High football team is in a seven-team district that has only one other area football team (Sarasota Riverview). The lack of competition with limited room to schedule out of district games hurt the Canes last year in the postseason.
The FHSAA could better use its time trying to get a handle on those behemoth private schools such as St. Thomas Aquinas that re-load with plenty of new talent every season.
Kudos to Braden River standout first baseman Bethaney Keen and Southeast’s jack of all trades Rebecca Boesen for being selected to play in the Florida Coaches Association All-Star Softball games on Friday and Saturday at Forest High School in Ocala. They will play for the West All-Stars.
Justin Fischer, Lakewood Ranch’s leading rusher the past two seasons, will play for NAIA Webber University while his teammate Gabe Overmyer has signed with FCS Stetson.
Other members of the Lakewood Ranch football team who have announced their college intentions include JJ Williams (Wilmington College), Roberto Valls (North Carolina Weslyan) and Kyle Mathis and Cody Hendrickson (both at North Park University in Chicago).