Fox Chapel grad Mathias ready to embark on career in Italy |
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Fox Chapel grad Mathias ready to embark on career in Italy

Duke athletics
Duke's Erin Mathias goes up for a shot during a game against High Point on Nov. 16, 2017.
Duke athletics
Duke's Erin Mathias goes up for a shot during a game against High Point on Nov. 16, 2017.

Erin Mathias recently concluded her basketball career at Duke. As it turns out, she won’t be hanging up her sneakers.

Last month, the 2014 Fox Chapel graduate signed a professional contract with USE Scott Empoli in Italy for the upcoming season.

Mathias, who started all 33 games last season for the Blue Devils, averaged a career-best 8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks while shooting 47.7 from the field.

She also had three double-doubles, along with 15 games where she reached double-digits in scoring. She was a Lisa Leslie Award candidate as the top center in NCAA Division I, and she ranked 11th in the ACC in blocks per game.

She graduated in May with a degree in visual arts and studies, along with an innovation and entrepreneurship certificate.

She realized toward the end of the season that basketball offers might be appearing.

“I knew that there was some interest and that I would have to make a decision,” she said. “My thoughts were that I had some unfinished business as far as basketball, and I decided to keep playing. It was sort of a tough decision.”

She had been prepared to embark on her fashion designing career upon graduation, but when the offer came, she realized she would be able to do just that.

“Empoli is not too far from Florence, which is a great fashion center,” Mathias said. “I’ll be bringing my sewing machine with me, and I’ll be able to work on some designs.”

As with other European teams, there is a limit on the number of American players on the roster.

“I’m not sure what the number is, but I think I’ll be a part of the program history,” she said. “I’ll be the first American to play with them.”

Though she is unfamiliar with the style of play of Empoli and the league in general, there are parts of her game she wants to concentrate on before she heads to Italy at the end of the summer.

“I’ve been working on my ball-handling and extending my range,” she said.

“I’m confident in my post presence and mid-range shooting but want to be comfortable from 3-point range.”

There’s one more thing she’ll be working on: “I am not fluent in speaking Italian at all. I took French for six years, but that won’t be helping me. It look’s like I’ll be hooking up with Rosetta Stone this summer.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.

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