When Jannah Tucker visited the University of Tennessee in February, she began to see herself as a Lady Vol. This past weekend, the New Town rising senior knew for sure.
Tucker, a member of the U.S. Under-18 national team, orally committed to the Lady Vols this past weekend on her second trip to the Knoxville campus.
"There's so many things I loved about it," she said. "The main thing was when I felt that gut feeling and I had to go with it. I listed pros and cons of schools, but with this one, the only con was that it was away from home, but that's not really a con I guess because they make it feel like home there from the family environment to the academic support to the opportunity athletically. It was just great all around."
This summer, Tucker had planned to narrow her list . She had West Virginia, Penn State, Villanova and Virginia high on a list that was difficult to whittle down.
Her father Robert Tucker estimates that she had over 50 offers — and that is probably conservative.
A multi-talented 6-foot guard with aspirations of playing in the 2016 Olympics and in the WNBA, Tucker already is well known on the national stage. A five-star prospect, she is rated the No. 8 recruit in the nation in ESPNU's 2013 HoopGurlz Super 60.
She played last summer for the U.S. Under-16 team that won gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championships in Merida, Mexico. She averaged 9.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as the U.S. went 5-0. In the title victory, 73-40 over Brazil, Tucker broke a U.S. record with seven steals.
In May, she competed for a spot on the Under-17 team that is headed to the world championships thanks to last summer's U16 gold, but she was moved up to the Under-18 trials. In early August, she will head to the U.S Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Col. for a week of preparation before the FIBA Americas U18 Championships in Puerto Rico Aug. 15-19.
Tucker, 17, was an All-Metro player as a sophomore at New Town and averaged about 30 points last season for the Titans although she missed a large chunk of the season with an ankle injury.
Well known for her ability to shoot the 3-pointer, take the ball to the hoop and defend just about any opponent, Tucker said her versatility will help her in the Lady Vols system.
"Tennessee is very versatile in their offense, they switch a lot on defense and really anybody can play any position except of course the ones and the fives," Tucker said. "They exchange a lot on offense and they have a lot of big guards too, so I can see myself fitting in that way. The college game is so much quicker, so much stronger and I know that Tennessee will keep pushing me. I work hard myself without anybody telling me, but there are people who want to see me achieve greatness and can help me do that."
She said legendary coach Pat Summitt's retirement is not a concern. The first recruit to commit to new coach Holly Warlick, Tucker doesn't expect the program, which has eight national championships, to run much differently.
"Coach Pat is still going to be there… They have a seat for her right behind the bench and I knew that the standard of Tennessee wouldn't change. I knew they were going to have genuine people, quality people and still have the same goal in mind, to win the national championship."