Takayla Tucker is ready to take the hardwood at Andrew College

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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Takayla Tucker is continuing her basketball career at Andrew College. The Callaway graduate was unsure about the next step in her life for the majority of her senior year, but once the basketball season was in full swing, she was having a hard time saying goodbye to the sport she had loved since she picked up a basketball for the first time as a little girl. 

The longer the season ran and the more she thought about her future, the clearer the vision became.

“For a while I didn’t know if I wanted to continue playing after high school, I was thinking about joining the Navy for a while,” Tucker said. “I started watching more basketball and saw Angel Reese and Haley Van Lith and I saw the energy at their games and wanted to keep playing.

“I actually reached out to (Andrew College), and I was like ‘I  want to further my career in basketball and think I could be a good fit,’ and the coach came to a couple of my games and he liked how I play.”

Originally, Tucker was a point guard, but made the transition to shooting guard once she hit the high school ranks.

While it was love at first sight when she found basketball, Andrew College did not make the same first impression. The school is located in Cuthbert, between Columbus and Albany, Tucker felt like she might be cut off from her family. But the more she talked with the coaches and players, the more like a home it felt.

“When I first went down there I wan’t sure it was for me because it is in the middle of nowhere, but the more I talked with coaches and players the more comfortable it made me feel,” Tucker said. “We have a  team group chat that I’ve already joined.”

Playing in college was almost not to be. After suffering a devastating knee injury during the summer between her freshman and sophomore years and then reinjuring the knee once she made her return which required surgery and left Tucker questioning whether she would ever return to the court. There were a lot of long days and hard workouts to get her back on the hardwood.

“It was pretty hard at first because I did come off ACL injury and this was my first year back on the court. I missed all of my 10th grade season and started back at the very end of my junior year,” Tucker said. “I really didn’t even want to do physical therapy. It was like I gave up.”

Eventually, Tucker made her way back to basketball. It was slow going at first, but she grew in confidence as she began to trust her leg again. By the time her senior season rolled around, Tucker was feeling better than she had in years.

“It was pretty amazing to get back on the court,” Tucker said. “At first I had to wear my brace, but now I don’t even have to wear it anymore.”

There were other sports over the years like flag football and softball, but her heart was always on the hardwood.

“I was only able to play flag football one year because of my injury and I gave up softball to focus on basketball,” she said. “Basketball was love at first sight and I wanted to focus on playing AAU as well.”

Her heart was always at Callaway as well. She played for the middle school team before making her way to the high school team and can not imagine her life in any other high school uniform besides her precious red and black.

Tucker will be heading to campus in a couple months, but the preparation has already begun.

“I know I have to go down there and make everybody proud because this is a big opportunity,” Tucker said.