Team Player: Jannah Tucker
In two seasons as a high school basketball player, 6í0Ē guard Jannah Tucker already has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments.
As a freshman in 2009-10, she averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game to help Western High School (Md.) to the Maryland Class 3A state title game. As a sophomore in 2010-11, she averaged 26.2 points, 12.0 rebounds, 8.0 steals and 6.1 assists per game to help New Town High School (Md.) to the first round of the state playoffs Ė not to mention her school record 39 points against Southside Academy this past season.
This week, Tucker is training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., as one of 12 members of the 2011 USA Womenís U16 National Team. Named as a team on May 31, the team has just a few more days of training before it departs for Merida, Mexico, and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Not only will a gold medal be on the line in the 2010 zone qualifier, but the top three finishing teams will earn a berth into the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship.
On a team that ranges in age from 14 to 16 years old, Tucker is neither the oldest nor the youngest player, but often times she appears as the teamís leader Ė for example, when she is running extra sprints to help out a teammate.
USABasketball.com caught up with Tucker to hear about training camp, her athletic family and playing for her country.
How is training going?
Itís going really well. It gets harder as it goes, but I think that is just what makes us tougher. Like today (Wednesday) we had a tough practice because we didnít necessarily play well. So, we definitely learned from it, and it was a reality check. What we are trying to do is win the gold.
Is training camp what you expected?
I thought itíd be a little harder at first. But itís getting harder each day, so itís what I expected. We are all working hard and getting better.
What is the best or most fun part of camp so far?
I think just being with the team. We are all very humble, and we all work hard. Playing together is honorable, and itís just fun.
Whatís the hardest part?
I think the two-a-day practices Ė pushing past our fatigue mentally. Two-a-days for two-and-a-half or three hours, itís hard. But itís fun once you all come together because you have a team that is going through the same thing.
Even though you finished your sprints, you ran extra to help out your teammates. Can you talk about that?
If that was me, Iíd want a teammate to do the same thing, and especially since I had to step out of some of the drills in the beginning because of my hamstring. When I sat out, my teammates were working hard. I donít want to feel like they worked harder than me. I think itís just better to help your teammates. For Jatarie (White), she would have had six more to run. Since I ran with her, she only had three. So, pushing her and helping her get better, it helps me, too.
What keeps you motivated?
I know a lot of people want to be in the situation Iím in, and Iím very grateful for it. Iím going to keep working hard, because anybody would love to trade places with me, and I just want to make the best out of the situation. If youíre going to do something, do it to its fullest advantage.
What about staying motivated at home?
I look at the bigger picture. Like, here, this is my training for the Olympics in 2016. So, just looking at the bigger picture and looking ahead.
What are some of your other goals?
To get a college scholarship and to play in the pros. My vision right now is to major in business and go to law school to be a sports entertainment lawyer, go to school while Iím not playing if I make it that far. Thatís my plan right now.
Your sister played college basketball. Are you close with her?
Yes, we are very close. She was at University of Maryland Baltimore County, and then she transferred to Maryland (where sheís not playing basketball). It kind of helped me learn about the whole school process. We are different people, so sheís very much a scholar and definitely in an academic state of mind. So, sheís pursuing her dream in academics and sports medicine, and sheís doing great.
Looking forward, how do you think you might pick a college or university?
Well, I actually look at Coach Schneider as a great coach because sheís not really a yeller. Even though I donít mind that, she teaches a lot and she connects with her players. Sheís always smiling, but she gets us to work hard as well. Itís not all fun and games, but itís also not that practice is a chore. So, Iím looking at coaching styles. Iím looking at whether I could live there. Iím looking at the team Ė who is coming in and who is going out. Things like that. But either way, I think if I work hard, things will take care of themselves.
Your father also played college basketball. Has he helped you or been a role model?
He has. He has definitely helped me and pushed me in the gym, all the time. But itís paying off now that Iím here. My sister, my older brother and me, we all spent time with him in the gym training. I always played against my older brother and sister, so that always helped me. My dad always pushed me and helped me look at the bigger picture and taught me not to take things for granted.