Even though her college career is over, A'dia Mathies continues to find ways to rewrite the Kentucky women's basketball record books.
On Monday night, Mathies was selected with the 10th overall pick in the WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, becoming the highest draft pick in UK Hoops history. She is UK's second first-round pick in the last three seasons, joining former teammate Victoria Dunlap.
Mathies will begin her professional career after cementing herself as one of the all-time greats at UK with a stellar four-year career. She ranks second in program history with 2,014 points and is in the top 10 of 13 different career lists, including steals, games started and games played.
Even more importantly, her arrival in Lexington marked the beginning of the renaissance of the UK program. Picked to finish last in the Southeastern Conference before her freshman season in 2009-10, Mathies helped lead her team to the first of three Elite Eights in four seasons that year and a league title in 2011-12.
"All of us are thrilled for A'dia," UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. "She did so much for the Kentucky program while she as here and we had no doubt she was one of the top players in the country. Being chosen as a first-round pick just shows what she did for us and how hard she has worked to get here. I think the Los Angeles Sparks made a great pick."
She will now look to make an impact at the next level, though she likely won't be asked to carry as heavy a load as at UK. The Sparks reached the WNBA Playoffs a season ago and appear poised to once again compete for a title in the upcoming season, which begins on May 26.
"She will be a good player to come in," analyst Carolyn Peck said on ESPN2's draft coverage. "She doesn't have to shoulder the weight of responsibility of providing all of the offense."
From day one, Mathies will have a relationship with Mitchell in common with her new head coach. Carol Ross - in her second season with the Sparks - is a former head coach at Ole Miss and Florida and hired Mitchell for his first collegiate assistant position while with the Gators.
Though Mathies will be far from the Bluegrass - where she has spent her whole life first as a Louisville native and later at UK - she won't have to look far for a familiar face. The Sparks share their home court at the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Playing for the Lakers is former Wildcat Jodie Meeks and playing for the Clippers is Eric Bledsoe, who arrived at UK the same season as Mathies.
With Tennessee's Candace Parker and other former college stars like Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford and Kristi Toliver of Maryland on the roster, Mathies will play a supporting role. Though that's something she never did while at UK, her time as a Wildcat did prepare her well for one facet of being a successful role player.
"You know that you're going to get that defensive effort because she's going to bring that Kentucky defensive style," Peck said.