Girls Basketball: Morgan Tuck Elevating Game to Next Level
The senior forward is trying to win Ms. Basketball of Illinois again with an incredible season. Tuck won the award three years ago as a freshman.
Morgan Tuck helped lead the Bolingbrook High School girls basketball team to a third-straight championship last season, was named to the USA U-19 national team and was widely acclaimed as one of the best high school talents in the country.
So what does the senior guard have to work on this year?
Despite these accomplishments, the 6-foot-2 Tuck has driven herself to keep upping her game year after year as she desires to reclaim her Ms. Basketball title.
"It was hard a little bit," Tuck said of continually improving in high school. "You start feeling yourself a bit when the accolades begin coming. Coach Anthony Smith and my parents (David and Lydia) did a great job in saying that's freshman year and it doesn't matter anymore. You didn't get it sophomore and junior year. That helps me now and has been pushing me to get it again."
Being Illinois' top player is well within reach for Tuck, who has exploded this season to average about 30 points a game—well above her 21-point clip last season.
And the UConn-recruit has been scoring in bunches without the assistance of star graduates Ariel Massengale, who now plays for the University of Tennessee, and her sister, Taylor Tuck, who now dons a University of Illinois jersey.
"Coach has been getting on me to be more aggressive," Morgan Tuck said. "I can't be as passive as I was before because it's not the same as last year. Now, my teammates get me the ball in great position. Everyone is OK with making it easy. If I'm getting double teamed, they pass to the open player. I'm scoring more now, but it's not that much different. I'm going a bit harder now."
Smith, who said Morgan Tuck is one of the nation's premier players, said his star player has been evolving as a basketball player throughout her career, becoming more confident as the Lady Raiders' go-to scorer.
"As a freshman, we put her into the spotlight and said we need you to score," Smith said. "She averaged 19 to 20 points the first three years and now is averaging over 30 points. She's really cut it loose. Now, we just have to work on her rebounding the ball. That's amazing because (Homewood-Flossmoor) had two to three people on her all night."
Smith was refering to Thursday's 90-61 home win over Homewood-Flossmoor, where Tuck demonstrated how she could dominate a game. Tuck faced off against the Vikings' senior forward/center Amena Brent, who scored 18 points and nabbed 11 boards in her previous game.
Tuck held Brent to 1-of-7 shooting for four points and three rebounds while tattooing the Vikings for 41 points on 14-of-20 shooting and 14 boards. This was Tuck's second consecutive 40-point game—she torched St. Mary's of Canada for 40 points Dec. 29.
"You have to find her body at all times and try to keep her away from the basket because that's where she is productive," Brent said. "Playing against Morgan will help me try to rebound better and know where players are so I could get the defensive board."
Tuck maintained a calm zone against Homewood-Flossmoor, where she drained her first four shots. She demonstrated her athleticism by quickly cutting to the baseline for a reverse layup through two defenders. She not only pounds the ball inside, but also has a nice mid-range jumper and made two threes against the Vikings.
Bolingbrook junior guard Kennedy Chattenhead said Tuck is a great leader and makes everyone on the court better.
"Morgan Tuck is an awesome player," Chattenhead said. "I'm really glad she is one of my teammates because she also pushes me to work hard. She's a good person, has a good heart, and always plays hard on the court."
The sky's the limit for Tuck, Smith said, if she could focus and remain active an entire 32 minutes consistently.
"She could be a kid that averages 40-45 points and 20-25 rebounds, and she isn't quite around there yet," Smith said.
Tuck said her love for basketball began when she was 7-years-old. She said she was a tomboy who just wanted to be just like her dad, who played college ball at Ferris State.
Morgan, and her sister Taylor, played on club teams for years, but Morgan struggled at first while playing superior competition gradually honed her skills.
After college, Tuck said she would like to play in the WNBA or overseas for as long as she can. She cites Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and former WNBA star Lisa Leslie as athletes who have inspired her.