Thank you for checking out Basketball Across Minnesota, my weekly look at some of the state's top hoops stories, from preps to pros. — Marcus Fuller

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For the first time in her basketball career, Sara Scalia isn't a full-time starter. Heading into her homecoming Wednesday against the Gophers, she's coming off the bench for No. 4 Indiana.

The former Stillwater standout is embracing a smaller role after transferring from the Gophers to Indiana, a 20-1 team deep with talent and Final Four aspirations.

But the spotlight is on Scalia again this week.

The 5-10 senior who spent three seasons as the Gophers starting shooting guard, will be back at Williams Arena for the first time, facing the Gophers (9-12) and her former coach, Lindsay Whalen.

"It's going to be a different feeling for sure," Scalia said. "Ultimately going there for me and the team, it's just to win. Not just get caught up in how I transferred. But Minnesota's a big part of me."

The Gophers program was rocked last spring when Scalia announced she was entering the transfer portal — joining other prominent U players Jasmine Powell (who landed at Tennessee) and Kadi Sissoko (USC).

As a Minnesota native and the first in-state recruit to commit to Whalen in 2018, Scalia said it was a tough decision to leave the Gophers. She averaged a career-high 17.9 points last season, shooting 41.3% from three-point range and a school record 91.5% on free throws, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.

When Scalia entered the portal with two years of eligibility remaining, her father, Peter, told the Star Tribune: "The clock is ticking. She's a pretty strong-minded kid. She was like, 'I want to win.' "

Whalen, who is now coaching a freshmen-laden Gophers team, tried to be understanding and supportive of the decision as best she could, Scalia said.

"That was definitely special to me because this doesn't happen everywhere," she added. "I'm glad I'm on good terms with her for sure."

Asked Tuesday if it'll be strange seeing Scalia in another uniform at Williams Arena, Whalen said, "I don't know. It's hard to say if it will be until I get out there. But you know, it's just kind of the way it is with the transfer portal."

The Hoosiers struck gold in the portal with Scalia, Sydney Parrish (from Oregon) and Alyssa Geary (Providence). They returned stars Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes from their Elite Eight and Sweet 16 teams, so some of the transfers needed to sacrifice playing time.

But that didn't happen for Scalia at the beginning. She started the first 14 games after Berger was sidelined with a knee injury. Two of her best performances came with 16 points in a win vs. then-No. 11 Tennessee in Nov. 14, and 12 points in a win vs. then-No. 6 North Carolina on Dec. 1.

After her role changed to a key reserve, Scalia went through a scoring slump, but she reminded the Big Ten how deadly she can be as a scorer with a season-high 19 points in a Jan. 23 win at then-No. 13 Michigan.

Scalia, who is averaging a career-low 9.0 points this season, has leaned on support from her teammates to stay confident on the offensive side. She's also committed to becoming much more reliable on defense. That's an area Indiana is known for in women's college hoops.

"I definitely got a lot better defensively," Scalia said. "For me, I obviously had to work on that when I first came here, but the coaches have done a good job of helping me improve."

Before committing to the Gophers as a high school junior, Scalia helped build Stillwater basketball into one of the state's top Class 4A programs. Her younger sister, Amber, followed in her footsteps with the Ponies and now is a freshman guard at St. Thomas.

After the Hoosiers come to the Barn and play the Gophers, Scalia will continue her new journey to pursue a Big Ten title and national championship away from home. And she's working harder every day to be the impact player she was for so long in Minnesota.

"For me, it's just continuing to believe in myself and the work I've put into the game," Scalia said. "The biggest thing is trusting in my work, but at the end of the day I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win. That's the main goal here."

Fuller's Five ballers

Monika Czinano, Iowa

The 6-3 Watertown native averaged 19.6 points during a six-game Hawkeyes winning streak, highlighted by her 22 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field in last week's upset over No. 2 Ohio State.

Maddyn Greenway, Providence Academy

The state's No. 2 scorer and freshman sensation made her case to be the top prospect in Minnesota regardless of class, with 41 points (16-for-16 on free throws) in an 87-80 win Saturday against Class 4A No. 1 Hopkins.

Anders Nelson, William & Mary

The St. Thomas transfer combined to score 49 points on 15-for-16 shooting, including 9-for-10 from three-point range in two games last week, including a career-high 27 points in a win vs. Stony Brook.

Myia Ruzek, Rochester Community & Technical College

She scored 28 points in just 18 minutes vs. Anoka-Ramsey Community College last week, helping her RCTC team improve to 16-0 and hold its spot as the No. 1 junior college Division III team in the country.

Nasir Whitlock, DeLaSalle

The Lehigh recruit and senior guard has been lighting up scoreboards, but nothing more spectacular than his 52 points last week in a win vs. Hopkins. He's averaging 33 points during a six-game win streak.

Statistically speaking

521 — Career three-point mark reached by Anthony Edwards to surpass Andrew Wiggins for second in Timberwolves history.

.455 — Pac-12-best three-point shooting percentage for Utah sophomore and Duluth native Gianna Kneepkens.

50 — Single-game points reached or surpassed recently by Hayfield's Isaac Matti (50), DeLaSalle's Nasir Whitlock (52), Duluth Marshall's Brooks Johnson (56) and Cass Lake-Bena's Gabby Fineday (58).

Basketball Across Minnesota will be published weekly on Don't be a stranger on Twitter after reading, as chatting about these stories makes them even more fun to share. Thanks, Marcus (@Marcus_R_Fuller on Twitter)