Highline Basketball's Ben Tucakovic excels on and off the Court - inks with Northwest University
Ben Tucakovic recently signed a letter of intent to attend and play at Northwest University this coming school year. An outstanding student, Ben was the subject of a recent article in the The Thunderbird Magazine, a Highline College publication.
By Charles Prater
Whether it was getting buckets on the basketball court or getting A's in the classroom, Ben Tucakovic was up to the challenge.
Tucakovic was born in 1994 in Bosnia, where he lived for a short while until his family moved to Boise, Idaho.
Tucakovic started learning how to play basketball at a young age and like his height, as he grew, so did his basketball skills.
He attended Borah High School, where he was a very active student. He was a three-sport student, playing football, basketball, and track. As a 6'6" junior, Tucakovic helped the Lions to a fourth-place finish in his school's district. In his senior year, he became the go-to guy on the team, averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game.
He was not only awarded Player of the Year in basketball his senior year at Borah, he helped his team win a championship. He also was named to the All-Academic list his senior year, maintaining a 3.5 GPA.
Now, in the present day, the tall, lean, mean, academic machine from Idaho will be ending is his two-year marriage with Highline when he graduates this spring.
"It's been a privilege to go to Highline and play with the same group of guys for two years," said Tucakovic. Tucakovic smiled that going to Highline wasn't really his plan, but things changed. "I was looking to transfer somewhere else and me and Coach Che Dawson just happened to get in touch through one of my teammates from high school," he said. "After some discussions, I decided to go to Highline."
"We heard Ben was transferring from North Idaho College and I know the coach pretty well so we started doing our research on Ben," said Highline Head Coach Dawson. "We knew he was a good student who had a unique skill set, a 6'7" player who could shoot the three ball really well."
As a freshman, Tucakovic contributed well for the T-Birds basketball team, averaging eight points and six rebounds per game. The Thunderbirds finished third in the conference that season.
That was a sign of great things to come the following year, where Tucakovic shined. In his sophomore
season, Tucakovic averaged 17points and eight rebounds a game and shot 43 percent from the three-point line.
Along with helping the T-Birds win a division championship and a spot in the playoffs, he also won NWAC West Division MVP and was on the All-Academic team this year with a 3.57 GPA.
"Ben has been outstanding the last two years. He is a model student and was a major reason for the team's success the last two years," said Dawson. "I will always remember Ben as a young man who understands what this experience is supposed to be about, that is school," he said. "It will be great if Ben can make some money playing basketball after college, but he realizes that his opportunities in life will be tied to his goals to becoming a doctor."
"Couldn't thank Coach Dawson enough for giving me the chance to be a part of this team," said Tucakovic. "One of the best coaches in my career," he said. "Big thanks to the assistants as well, they were all there for mine and the team's best interest and that matters a lot to me."
Along with his awards from basketball, Tucakovic will be graduating from Highline on the honor roll.
With the first two years of his college experience already in the book, Tucakovic will try to continue his success at Northwest University in Kirkland.
Tucakovic says he plans to major in biology, but he is still keeping his options
"I've always felt like biology has been my strongest subject and something I've always been interested in," said Tucakovic. "The classes are going to be pretty difficult, so it's pretty much going to be school and basketball 24 hours every day for me the next couple of years."
Tucakovic, along with three other players from Washington, signed letters of intent to play basketball for the Eagles back in May.
"I'm really looking forward to just competing with the guys we have. I feel we have some pretty good pieces to do some things next year," said Tucakovic. "I've gone and played with most of them already and so I'm starting to gel with some of the players."
If everything pans out, Tucakovic says he sees more schoolwork in his future.
"I plan on going into pre-med so I can become a doctor. Not really sure what kind yet exactly, but
I'll figure it out along the way," Tucakovic said.
He laughed that he wants his own fancy office and gadgets.
With a heavy workload on his plate and a demanding path in front of him, Tucakovic's smarts, hard work, calm demeanor, and gratitude will be the reason why he succeeds at whatever he does.
"I'm just blessed by all the opportunities I've gotten and excited by the many ahead of me," he said.
Photo illustration by Mai Lam