Future looks bright on court for New Town junior

Things seem destined to keep getting better and better for New Town High's Jannah Tucker as she approaches the final two seasons of her prep basketball career.

As the rising junior compiles a list of colleges, odds are she will be able to pick from among some of the country's most elite programs.

The 6-foot guard/forward is that talented.

Tucker says Maryland, Mississippi, Duke, Georgetown and Syracuse universities already are recruiting her.

"I will put a list out in the summer of my junior year, probably to about five or 10 schools, saying which schools I am really considering," Tucker explained.

No wonder college coaches are hoping to land the Owings Mills resident, who transferred from Western High School, in Baltimore City, after her freshman year.

After all, Tucker showcased her vast variety of skills this summer as a starter for the United States national Under-16 squad that won a gold medal at the FIBA Americas championship in Merida, Mexico, on June 18.

Tucker played a valuable role on a squad team that went 5-0, beating Brazil twice and Argentina, Venezuela and Puerto Rico once each.

She averaged 9.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.6 assists per game while raising her profile in the process.

"She was a huge leader for us," USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider said. "She adapted very well and very quickly to whatever role each game happened to present. There were games where Jannah would be our leading scorer, and that's what we needed her to do. Then there were games where she had six points, but finished with 15 rebounds."

Tucker said she was thrilled to have an such impact in the tournament that finished with a gold medal for the U.S. team after it ripped Brazil in the championship game, 73-40.

"Winning the gold medal was definitely the biggest thing," Tucker said. "Not many people have a gold medal and get the chance to experience what I have done. And it's such a great honor to represent your country."

Tucker had quite a few memorable games on the way to the gold. She had 17 points, including three treys in USA's third win, a 114-32 thumping of Venezuela.

But Tucker saved her best game for the final, totaling 11 points, seven steals, five rebounds and five assists.

"I learned it's not really about how much you score," said Tucker, who averaged 26 points as a sophomore for New Town. "But other things matter, too, such as rebounding and playing defense. Sometimes, we needed a defensive stop, and that was important."

Rankin Schneider appreciated how Tucker always wanted to be at the center of the action even after she was injured during tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado.

"She wouldn't get assigned to a team, but she would always be walking by asking to be assigned to a team. She wanted to be part of the group. She wanted to root and cheer for her team. Those subtleties are a big part of team building."

Schneider would like another chance to coach Tucker, who is playing this summer for the AAU's Philadelphia Belles, again if the opportunity presents itself.

"She is young and only 16," Schneider said. "She is going to get so much better."

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