SEYMOUR – The King’s Academy girls’ basketball team finished as state runner-up in Division II – Class A during the 2019-20 season, a season that ended with an incomplete for most squads, as the Covid-19 virus shut down all high school sports in mid-March.
That year’s Lady Lions’ squad did have the opportunity to play out the season with a team that featured 2022 Class 4A Miss Basketball Jennifer Sullivan, who finished her career at Bearden, along with Bailey Burgess, who also transferred to Bearden. Standout post players Amelia and Ainsley Pfeiffer wound up at Alcoa during the 2021-22 season as well.
Sometimes, with a coaching change, that is what can happen to a program. The Lady Lions finished the 2020-21 season with a record of 10-15, a season after posting a 26-7 record and an unblemished mark in district play.
Juleigh Anne Tucker was a freshman on that state runner-up squad and after a disappointing sophomore campaign, could have chose somewhere else to call home. Instead, the guard stayed the course at TKA, battled through the thick and thin, and the roster turnover, and later became one of the better shooters in the entire state, much less Division II.
Tucker set a school record with 10 three-pointers in a game during her junior year against Concord Christian.
Sometimes, consistency means everything and with Tucker’s current head coach, she was able to find that.
On Tuesday, January 17, Tucker signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky.
“I’ve been coaching (Juleigh Anne) since she was in 7th grade,” TKA head coach Dante Turnipseed said. “I was the middle school coach then, and when she was starting high school, I was an assistant.”
When coaching her in middle school, Turnipseed said he saw talent in Tucker, but that it was her work ethic that got her where she is today.
“She was every day in the gym and (asking) what can I do to get better?,” Turnipseed said. “After every game, she would ask, ‘Can I get in the gym in the morning?’ Now she sees where it has taken her. It’s not on me, but it’s on her to say that. I was laughing, because I don’t have to talk to her mom, but she would call me and say, ‘Hey, I’m coming to the gym to work on this or that.'”
Tucker gave a lot of praise to her former middle school and current high school coach, as she felt Turnipseed helped her to maximize her potential at TKA.
“I think having someone who was always in my corner was good for me and having somebody who believed in me, like Dante (Turnipseed), who was always telling me that I needed to do better.”
Tucker said that her recruitment process began during her freshman year, as she was first contacted by Milligan University. However, the senior guard said that it was the AAU circuit that truly gave her exposure and led to her singing with NAIA Asbury.
“Throughout my AAU career, we played a lot in Kentucky, so a lot of these schools were watching me play,” Tucker said. “Asbury was just like a family atmosphere and the first time I walked in, it just felt like family. They welcomed me and knew my name and kept talking to me. It was never awkward.”
While Juleigh Anne has committed to Asbury for the 2023-24 season, the senior sharpshooter still has unfinished business in Knoxville, as TKA looks to compete for a region and state championship in 2023.