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Matthew Mitchell on expectations for Samari Walker and A’dia Mathies this season

By LARRY VAUGHT

Question: Do you expect more out of Samari Walker this year in her first full season after her transfer from Connecticut?
Mitchell: “I think it is important for her to continue to probe and push and see if we can find a way to get her to expand her skill set and get to the spot she elevates the mental side of her game. She gets down and is too hard on herself. That is what she didn’t do in the NCAA tournament and why against the best competition of year she averaged a double-double.
“She is definitely a player we want to take a step forward, and we will raise the expectation level for her. Now she will be able mentally to prepare for her entire season. It is difficult to jump into it in the middle of the year after everybody else has 10 to 11 games under their belt and then you are thrust into a situation like at Notre Dame and have to find a way to mesh immediately.”

Question: Is there any way for A’dia Mathies to be better than she has, and what makes her so special?
Mitchell: “I think A’dia can get a little bit more out of her game still. I still think there is always room for improvement. If she has an identical year from a production standpoint because we have better players around here, we will be good. If she finds a way to squeeze more out, it will really help. We need her to be better.
“We don’t want to stop at the Elite Eight. She would be a big part of getting us to a Final Four if she plays better. A lot of that is on the mental side, but there’s no doubt she is very talented.”

Question: Did you envision her being this good when you recruited her?
Mitchell: “I would be lying all over the place if I thought even the program would look like this. I thought she would help make steps forward, but literally during her time here the program has transformed so much. No way I could have anticipated what she has done and accomplished and meant to Kentucky. It’s just incredible. She was SEC freshman of the year and SEC player of the year in her first three seasons. No one could have expected that.”

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