New ’Cat hoop coach has big shoes to fill
by JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
May 25, 2014 | 980 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Although he grew up with a father and two uncles who have combined for 1,655 coaching victories, it wasn’t until his freshman year in college that Jon Tucker decided to take up the family business.

“I’ve played and loved basketball since I could walk, but I didn’t decide to become a coach until my first year in college,” related the new boys head basketball coach at Polk County High School. “To get an opportunity like this right out of school is tremendous. I know with the success of my dad and uncles, I have some big shoes to fill.”

The son of David Tucker, who has had 676 victories during high school coaching stints at McMinn County, Charleston, Walker Valley and currently Union County, Ga., Jon Tucker just graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan College earlier this month, where he played golf and was a student assistant coach with the men’s basketball team.

Jon’s uncle, Gary, is the girls’ coach at Tellico Plains and has 651 victories, while his other uncle, Junior, coached at Charleston and has 328 wins as a head coach.

“I actually went [to TWC] on a basketball scholarship, but after switching from accounting to wanting to coach, I decided to work with the team as a student assistant rather than play,” stated Jon, who played on Walker Valley’s 2009 team that went to the TSSAA State Tournament. “Getting to go to Murfreesboro and be a part of that made me want to go back again as a coach.”

“I was Brice Sharp’s backup on that team (2008-09),” related Jon of the 34-2 Mustangs that advanced to the state semifinals. “I started my senior season the next year [2009-10]. I learned a lot from Coach [Bob] Williams and will use part of that in my coaching style.”

“We’re excited about Jon joining us here at Polk County High School,” declared principal and athletic director Ron German. “He comes from a very successful coaching family as well as good programs at Walker Valley and TWC.”

“He has hit the ground running. He is already working with the team and making plans for the summer,” German added. “We like the fact that he wanted to coach at a smaller school and live in a community such as ours.”

Currently living in Calhoun, Jon is engaged to former Polk County volleyball and basketball standout Emily Wilson. “We are going to get married next summer and look for a house in Polk County,” he related.

“This is a very unique opportunity [to get a head coaching job right out of college],” Jon commented. “I’m thankful to Mr. German and Dr. [James] Jones [Polk County Director of Schools] for giving me this opportunity.”

“I’ve met with the team and am in the process of locking down our summer plans,” Coach Tucker related. “We are going to go to the TWC team camp on June 2. We’re going to hold tryouts this week. I’ve already had four football players tell me they are going to play [basketball].”

Tucker is replacing former head coach Rusty Brewer, who along with assistant coach Johnny Hayes, stepped down at the end of March. Brewer was 58-134 in seven seasons on the Polk bench, including an 8-22 mark this past season with a Wildcat squad that had seven seniors.

“Coach Brewer is helping to make this a smooth transition,” the new Wildcat coach explained. “We have a good senior point guard in Gage Locke coming back. I will rely heavily on him. We have five seniors altogether who have been with the program.”

Coach Tucker said he wants to “make the game fun for the players and the fans.” 

“My dad’s teams always had a philosophy of ‘Shoot it before you loose it,’ and we’ll play the same style. All of the players will have to the green light to shoot when they have an open shot. We’re not going to be big, but we’ll be quick and wiry,” he added. “I’ve learned a lot from Coach Williams and Coach [Mike] Poe [TWC], as well as from watching my dad and uncles, and I’ll use some of all of that in my coaching style.”

“The most important thing I’ve learned from all of them isn’t basketball but to train this boys how to become young men and prepare them for life,” proclaimed Coach Tucker. “They’ve all have done that for me. I want share my love for the game with these young men and hopefully teach them things that will help them both on and off the court.”

“I like the community and tradition at Polk County and am glad to get the chance to be a part of it,” he added.

Recognizing building a strong program begins before players reach the high school level, Coach Tucker is holding an instructional basketball camp June 9-12 at the PCHS gym.

“It’s for both boys and girls, from pre-K through 12th grade,” he declared.

The cost is $40 per player with daily sessions running from 9 a.m. until noon. For more information Coach Tucker can be contacted at 423-650-3449.

The hiring of Tucker fills one of three coaching vacancies at the Benton school with German hoping to have the other two secured soon.

“We are very close to filling the girls’ basketball coaching position and hopefully will have the baseball coaching job wrapped up within a month,” German stated.

Coach Hayes had been the girls’ coach for the past four seasons, while Polk County coaching legends John Dixon and Frankie Lowery filled in on the diamond this season to give the school time to secure a permanent baseball coach after the sudden departure of Michael Carter to Franklin County last summer just before classes began.