Illinois College's Tucker a YouTube sensation


Jacob Tucker’s quest to be included in the NCAA Dunk Contest at the Final Four next month received a major boost over the weekend.

Tucker posted a YouTube video highlighting his dunking ability late Thursday night. The video has been watched more than a quarter million times as of Monday morning. Several national media outlets have posted links to the video from their websites. ESPN’s SportsNation is currently asking fans on its Facebook page who would win a dunk contest: Tucker or current NBA Slam Dunk Champion Blake Griffin?

Tucker says he posted the video in hopes of getting picked to participate in the NCAA Dunk Contest. He never thought it would go viral.

“I never expected this,” he said. “It’s hard to describe, because when I put the video up, I didn’t expect this to happen, and the fact that it did is pretty unreal.”

Tucker, a 5-foot-11 senior guard from Carlyle, Illinois, recently finished his collegiate basketball career at Illinois College. Tucker averaged 14.8 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game as Illinois College posted a record of 16-8 this winter, matching the team’s most wins in 33 years.

Tucker wants one last chance to wear the Illinois College jersey, however, and he hopes to do so at the Final Four in Houston, Texas, next month. A Facebook group and fan page have been created to accompany the YouTube video. The description of the Facebook group says that, “Small schools can produce big talent too.”
“Division I players have been in (the dunk contest) for the longest time, but it’s not the case that the best dunkers are always in Division I,” Tucker said. “I think I can compete with some of those guys, so I just want the opportunity to be in it.”

Tucker said the reaction to his YouTube video has been overwhelming. He’s received countless emails, text messages and media requests the past few days. Tucker posted a similar YouTube video two years ago, but it didn’t receive a fraction the attention his new video has.

And Tucker thinks he knows why.

“I think people are trying to support it for the cause of it,” says Tucker. “They want to be a part of it because there’s a purpose behind it and people can feel like they’re helping me out. The people supporting me have been awesome, especially everyone at Illinois College.”

Tucker is spending spring break in his hometown of Carlyle (pop. 3,400), trying to catch his breath after a busy weekend. He’s still getting used to his newfound celebrity.

“It’s all happened so fast,” Tucker said. “I’m a pretty low-key guy, so I’ve just been spending some time at home trying to get away from it a little bit.”

Tucker hopes all the attention he is getting will help him secure a spot in the dunk contest. And while his YouTube video features some pretty impressive dunks, Tucker says he won’t be repeating any of them if he’s selected to compete in the NCAA Dunk Contest next month.

“I didn’t put everything in there,” Tucker said with a laugh. “I’ve got a few left.”


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