May 26, 2010
Montgomery, Ala. - Shorter College senior point guard Whitni Tucker has been named the Southern States Athletic Conference Female Honor Student-Athlete for the 2009-10 academic year as announced by the league on Tuesday evening.
Tucker, who earned the NAIA's Emil S. Liston Award last year as the nation's top female junior basketball player based on scholarship, character and playing ability, is the second straight Lady Hawk to garner the league's most prestigious honor - former Shorter softball standout Becca Thomas took home last year's award.
"Whitni was very deserving of this award," said Shorter head women's basketball coach Vic Mitchell. "It capped off a tremendous four-year career. We have had athletes come through and finish with 4.0 GPA's, excel on the court and be involved in the community, but her getting this award as the top student-athlete in our conference really sets her apart.
"This is an outstanding honor for Whitni, our basketball program and for Shorter to receive this award in consecutive years."
The Pisgah, Ala., native certainly left her mark on Shorter during her career, not only on the court, but also in the classroom and in the Rome community.
Tucker graduated from Shorter as a First Honor Graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and a degree in Mathematics.
She has accrued a long list of academic awards in her four years, including the Eula Lewis Minor Scholarship for Mathematics Studies, the Randall H. Minor Award (given to Shorter's top student in the field of mathematics) and the Robert G. Walther Award, presented to Shorter's top five juniors.
Tucker served as President of the Shorter chapter of the Mu Alpha Theta National Mathematics Honor Society, is a member of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, was Shorter's 2008-09 Student-Athlete of the Year, earned the Best in Department Symposium Award for Mathematics during her junior year, and was named to the Dean's List in each of her eight semesters at Shorter.
She was a three-time SSAC All-Academic selection and a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete. The Honor Student-Athlete award makes Tucker the arguably the most decorated women's basketball player in school history.
"Whitni epitomizes the term student-athlete," said Mitchell. "She brought the same intelligence and work ethic that she displayed in the classroom to the basketball court. She not only knew her position, but everyone else's as well. It's invaluable as a coach to have a player with those abilities because you know you can call anything at any time and it will be executed.
"We were confident that when the ball was in her hands, she would get the job done," Mitchell added. "Her work ethic and drive to be as good as she could be made our team better. That's what you want out of your point guard - someone who can be the coach on the floor."
Tucker's star shined even brighter through her involvement with the community.
On Shorter's campus, Tucker was the President of the Math Club and served as a mathematics tutor.
While at Shorter, Tucker immersed herself in the surrounding Rome community by teaching Spanish and reading to local elementary school classes, helping out with the Special Olympics, participating in Christmas charities for underprivileged families, working in soup kitchens and helping to raise money for breast cancer research. Tucker also served as a mentor to a local high school student-athlete.
While at home during summer break, Tucker worked a summer job as a mentor to five and six-year-old children at a Kid's Club in Scottsboro, Ala., and also worked a multitude of summer basketball camps.
On the basketball court, Tucker filled a variety of roles, and was a major key to the Lady Hawks' incredible success over the last three years.
Tucker started at point guard for Shorter during a run of three straight seasons of at least 20 wins - the first time in program history that feat was been accomplished.
This past year, Tucker guided the Lady Hawks to 22 victories - the most for the program since 2000 - and the team's first berth in the NAIA Women's Basketball National Championship since 2001.
Tucker, who served as a mentor throughout her career to the younger players on the Lady Hawks' roster, departs Shorter as its winningest women's basketball player having been a major part of 75 victories in four years.
"We've had a lot of good basketball players and academic success within our program, but Whitni has to be the most successful student-athlete in my 20 years by being selected for this award," said Mitchell. "She has set a standard in winning, set a standard in the classroom and set a standard in her work ethic that we as coaches will refer back to.
"Whitni will be one of the players that we will talk about for years to come because of her success on and off the basketball court. That is her legacy."