Girls Basketball: Bolingbrook’s Morgan Tuck named Illinois’ best

Story Image Bolingbrook's Morgan Tuck (right) drives around Joliet's Morgan Graves. | Herald-News File Photo

Updated: March 8, 2012 6:09PM

Morgan Tuck laughed and said, “Yeah, I definitely will like drinking Gatorade a lot more now.”

In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, on Thursday announced the Bolingbrook senior forward as its 2011-12 Gatorade Illinois Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The award keeps the celebration in the Bolingbrook family as point guard Ariel Massengale, now starting at Tennessee, was the recipient last season.

“It’s cool to keep it in the same school,” said Tuck, who will play her college basketball at Connecticut. “Ariel and I are good friends. I watched her games (at Tennessee) on TV whenever I got the chance. It was fun to watch her in the SEC Tournament.”

The award recognizes not only athletic success, but also academic achievement and character on and off the court. Tuck is a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.

“This is definitely a nice honor,” she said. “It’s a really big award, and I want to thank my teammates and coaches for all their help in me getting it.

“The great thing about it is that it isn’t just based on athletics. It’s also character and how I am as a person.”

Tuck helped Bolingbrook to consecutive state championships her first three seasons. This season, the Raiders lost in quadruple overtime in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central Supersectional to eventual state champ Whitney Young.

“That still sucks the same amount, but we can’t change it,” she said. “My team is still a great team, and I love all my teammates. We had a great run, I just wish it would have ended better.”

The 6-foot-2 Tuck averaged 29.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 steals this season. The McDonald’s and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American shot 69.4 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and 78 percent from the free-throw line.

She was the 2009 National Freshman of the Year and 2010 National Sophomore of the Year as named by ESPNHS. She also played for USA Basketball’s 2009 U16 National Team, 2010 U17 World Championship Team and 2011 U19 World Championship Team.

All the while, Tuck went above and beyond off the court. She has a 3.83 weighted grade-point average. She donates her time as a youth basketball instructor and has volunteered in community service in association with the National Honor Society.

“She is the perfect example of what an athlete should be and aspires to be,” coach Brian Reed, of Joliet Central, said in a news release. “She is gracious in victory and she brings out the best in her team and her opponents.

“Also, she brings the same intensity in the classroom. Who could ask for more?”

“My coach (Tony Smith) made sure we were good people off the court,” Tuck said. “He emphasized that if we didn’t take care of our schoolwork, we wouldn’t be able to play basketball.”

Besides Massengale last season, other recent Gatorade girls basketball award winners in Illinois included Tricia Liston (2009-10 and 2008-09, Fenwick), Sarah Boothe (2007-08, Warren), Brittany Johnson (2006-07, East Richland) and Candace Parker (2003-04, 2002-03 and 2001-02, Naperville Central).

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