Bucking the systemRed Wing guard Tesha Buck received her first recruiting letter from a college the summer before she entered eighth grade.
By: Ryan Nilsson, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing guard Tesha Buck received her first recruiting letter from a college the summer before she entered eighth grade.
“I was surprised,” Buck said. “I didn’t really think I was good enough to get letters. Practice pays off, I guess.”
The letters haven’t stopped coming. She estimated 30 to 40 colleges have sent her mailings. Her dad, Richard, said many of the Division I programs in the Upper Midwest have sent her letters as well as UCLA and Kansas.
“She’s excited about every letter she gets,” Richard said. “I think that’s what keeps her driven. She does want to be the best player.”
The Minnesota high school girls basketball Web site gPrep.net ranks Buck as the third best player in her class. The Class of 2013, that is.
“We love Tesha,” Wingers coach Kraig Ulveling said. “We think she’s definitely one of the top ninth-graders in the state, but we still have to remember she’s 14 years old. Even though physically she looks like a senior, she’s still only a ninth-grader.”
Buck averaged a team-high 12.5 points per game last season, and coach Ulveling said she could average over 30 points per game, but she has a different goal this season.
“I focus on my game, but mostly I just try to make my teammates better,” she said. “Especially this year. I want to give Megan (Fleming) and Olivia (Johnson) a good senior year.”
Buck showcased her unselfish play from April to July in her inaugural season with the North Tartan AAU basketball club.
“She was put in a position where she probably was not asked to shoot first and probably asked to pass the ball first as a mentality,” North Tartan coach John Hedstrom said. “Those were clearly areas where she grew.”
It was while playing for North Tartan that Buck caught the attention of the many of the programs that are now expressing interest.
Buck was young enough to play on the 13-and-under team, but she was moved up to the 14-and-under team because of her athleticism, according to club director Bill Larson. Her team often played against teams of 15- and 16-year-olds in tournaments. Buck’s competitiveness, which Hedstrom mentioned on a number of occasions, helped her to thrive against the older girls.
“We’d create some competitive games (in practice) and we’d have the losers run,” Hedstrom said. “She would not be a happy camper when she lost. You could just see it on her face. She just didn’t like to lose.”
He saw it in games too, as North Tartan traveled from Oregon to Tennessee for tournaments.
“You’re playing in very intense environments and there (are) girls that (are from) across the country have lost very, very few games over the course of the season,” Hedstrom said. “They don’t like when they’re losing and it gets real physical and chippy. She would flourish in that environment. She enjoyed it.”
If Buck continues to progress and work hard, Hedstrom said the question would be if she plays for a mid-major Division I program or one of the big name schools that is sending her mailings.