Six foot guard Jannah Tucker of New Town High School in Maryland has verbally committed to the University of Tennessee. She is the first to commit under new head coach Holly Warlick, the successor of the legendary Pat Summitt.
This summer, Jannah Tucker was supposed to be narrowing down her college list to a top five and then take official visits in the fall. But that never happened. Instead, on an unofficial visit to Tennessee last weekend, she pulled the trigger and committed to the Lady Vols.
“I felt it in my gut during my first visit, but I still wanted to look at other schools,” said the 6-0 guard, referring an earlier trip to Knoxville in February. “When I went down again and spent time with everybody, I just felt that this was the place for me. The work ethic, the tenacity and the character is so outstanding there and I just knew that it was the best fit.”
Tucker, a rising senior for New Town High School in Maryland, is the first major recruit to commit to Tennessee under new head coach Holly Warlick, who took over for the legendary Pat Summitt.
“It wasn’t a deal breaker for me,” says Tucker about Summitt retiring. “I knew with coach Holly that their style of play and their values weren’t going to change.”
“The chance to win a national championship under coach Holly and to continue the tradition that coach Summitt left is appealing to me,” continued Tucker. “I know I’ll be playing against the best and with some of the best and you need people like that to push you to reach your potential.”
Potential is exactly what Tucker is full of. She is 175 pounds of pure muscle and averaged 30 points, 6 assists and 4 steals a game last season for the Titans. She has already won a gold medal as a member of the 2011 USA Basketball U16 National Team and is currently on the roster for the U18 National Team, which will compete in the FIBA America’s Championship in August.
"She is a natural born leader, a prolific scorer, she can rebound, a good communicator -- she can basically do it all," says Tucker's high school coach Gena Young. Tucker set a New Town High School scoring record with 39 points in a game this year and has already passed the 1,500-point mark for her prep career.
Tucker says her success comes from her family and her faith. She is one of five siblings and has an older brother and sister who both played basketball.
“They would not take it easy on me,” Jannah says with a laugh. “My sister is a great shooter and my brother is extremely quick and can handle the ball, so I learned a lot from them and they are still teaching me and critiquing me and I appreciate that.”
Jannah’s father, Robert Tucker, is former basketball player at the University of Richmond and is now very active in his daughter’s training. This year he introduced Jannah to boxing in an effort to improve her speed and agility.
“I had never hit the speed bag, I was afraid to embarrass myself,” say Tucker about her first boxing workout. “But now I love it. Boxing is definitely a humbling sport and it can transfer to so many things in basketball.”
Faith is the other key element for Tucker. Raised as a Muslim, she regularly attends services with her family at a local mosque and in between her basketball and school responsibilities is studying Islam.
“It’s something I’ve grown up with, it’s something that we take pride in,” said Tucker, who admits many people don’t know she’s a Muslim because she doesn’t wear the traditional hijab headscarf.
“I look at the Koran as an instruction guide”, says Tucker. “How I act, how I dress, how I carry myself as a young lady -- my faith is my main foundation. I go by three things: I’m a Muslim, a student, an athlete -- in that order and that never changes.”
Keeping her priorities straight has been working for Tucker, not only is she having success on the court, she's also excelling in the classroom with a 3.5 GPA. She plans to study law at the University of Tennessee and is considering a career in sports or entertainment law. But whatever career she chooses, it may have to wait, because Tucker's talents on the court certainly have the potential to land her a career as a pro basketball player.
"She is a humble kid," says coach Young. "She has a great family and a good level head on her shoulders and I know she will do big things."
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