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Longwood’s Tucker preparing to graduate, weighing options

South Boston News
Antwaun Tucker receives congratulations from a teammate after hitting a home run for Longwood. (Mike Kropf photo) / April 08, 2020

After enjoying three solid seasons of baseball with the Longwood University Lancers, shortstop Antwaun Tucker was a selectee to the Big South Preseason All-Conference team heading into his senior season.

The Lancers played 17 games before the coronavirus would cancel all of spring sports, from professionals to rec league players alike. During that time the team went 4-13, all non-conference losses, and the Lancers were looking to get back on track as conference play approached.

Tucker says he believed the team was going to improve and that he would live up to his preseason honor.

“We started slow this year, but that was due to three of our best pitchers still being out because of Tommy John [elbow injuries], but I think we could have turned it around,” Tucker said. “It felt good to know that all the late nights and early mornings that I was out working on my game was starting to pay off. I felt good starting the season, and I definitely think I had the chance to reach those preseason expectations.

“It has been great,” Tucker referring to his time on the team. “It was definitely tough at times, but I also knew what I signed up for and looked forward to the challenge of being a D1 student-athlete.”

Tucker, who is finishing out his senior year taking online classes, said his choice of Longwood for his education and baseball career was the correct one. He is majoring in kinesiology and Longwood was familiar territory as it has been for several Bluestone athletes — among them NBA champion Jerome Kersey and Carmille Barnette, each Division-2 All-Americans, Doug Toombs, Frankie Watson, and Major League Baseball veteran Michael Tucker (Antwan’s uncle) just to name a few.

“I grew up around Longwood,” Tucker said. “I have been watching baseball games there since I was 10 years old. Even though I had a lot of options on the table to choose from I just felt Longwood was home.

“For sure, I love competition, and to be able to do so at a high level that I always dreamt of made it that much better.”

The senior shortstop has racked up several accolades while at Longwood. From being named a Big South Honorable Mention last season to twice being selected as the Big South Freshman of the Week, Tucker has had serious impact with the Lancers.

“My biggest high for sure would be getting a hit off of the number one draft pick my sophomore season,” Tucker said. “Casey Mize went number one overall from Auburn in the 2018 draft I think and I went 1-3 off of him.

“Second would be my freshman year when I came in second in the country in triples. I never would have never expected as freshman to come in and rank second in the country among all D1 players in triples.”

Though Tucker wanted to play ball this year, he wasn’t that upset with the initial two-week pause in action, before the season was cancelled.

“I didn’t really feel much because it was kind of a break,” Tucker said. ”Being a D1 student-athlete does not provide you with much off time, and it was nice to have that for a change.

“For those two weeks I was at school without baseball, I could be a normal college student. I did not have to worry about being up at six every morning, as well as staying up to 11 or 12 every night to make sure my school work was done.

“It didn’t really dawn in on me until one Tuesday and I started to think like, ‘man I should be suiting up for a game right now.’ It all just escalated really quickly.”

The NCAA has since determined that for athletes not able to play their senior season in D1 sports due to the pandemic, they will be allowed one more year of eligibility. The Chase City native and son of Kelvin and Teisha Tucker said whether he decides to go back to Longwood for another year, enter the MLB draft or just pursue future goals, he’s not letting those decisions drive his train of thought right now.

“I’m kind of taking everything slow and living in the moment,” Tucker stated. “All of those options are open to me whether it be the draft or returning for another season of collegiate baseball.

“Right now I’m torn between going into a master’s program for kinesiology or the military, but I’ll figure it out soon enough.”

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