Jacob Tucker Q + A
The 2011 NCAA Dunk Contest champion talks with SLAMonline about how life has changed since winning the event.
JT: I never would’ve tried that dunk if I wouldn’t have saw Blake Griffin do it. I didn’t think it was possible to do that dunk and I’d never even seen anyone attempt it before. You know, I was watching the NBA dunk contest and I saw him do that and it popped in my head like, ‘I wonder if I could do it.’ I ended up getting it for the YouTube video that I did and actually, this is kind of funny, we got it on the first try. That was the first time I’d ever even tried it.
SLAM: The other dunk, the one that you didn’t make but I did see it in the video, was the 360 between-the-legs. Where did THAT come from?
JT: Well, there’s not a whole lot of people that can do that dunk and I originally wasn’t even going to do it in the competition. I had planned on not doing it because I didn’t think it was as consistent enough for me that if it came down do to that dunk that I knew I could pull it off to win the contest. But when I found out there was 1 minute to do the dunks in the championship round of the contest, I decided to just throw that dunk out there and try it because that dunk has never been done in a major competition like that and if I could be the first one to do it that would’ve been huge. So I at least wanted to give it 2 tries and I knew that if I couldn’t get it, I knew I was going to be able to get the back-up dunk which was the one that ended up winning it. I knew I could get that dunk so I wanted to give the 360 between-the-legs a couple of tries.
SLAM: And your final dunk where the guy is holding the ball up, how tall is he and how hard is that dunk?
JT: He’s about 6-foot and of all the dunks I did in the contest, that was the hardest dunk for me to complete the first time I got it. The reason I even attempted that dunk was because I saw a guy on YouTube do it and when I first saw it I was like, ‘I have never seen that dunk before and that’s something I’d like to pull off.’ There’s a lot of things that go along with that dunk as far as twisting your body and things like that. It’s hard to jump over somebody and then reverse it. So it was a lot of work on trying to make sure my body is positioned the right way when I’m jumping and the way I’m turned. It was a lot of things that go along with that dunk and it took me a while to get it but once I figured it out, I got it pretty consistently and I knew I could get it for the contest.
SLAM: So if he’s 6-feet-tall, how tall are you?
JT: I’m about 5-10.
SLAM: Holy crap!
JT: Yeah. I had everything listed as 5-11 because that’s what I’ve been listed as since high school. I didn’t want it to be this big disparity, I didn’t want to get into that. Everything that I have listed it’s at 5-11 because I don’t want people to think I was trying to make myself seem shorter. I’m 5-10 without shoes on and I’m pushing 5-11 with shoes.
SLAM: So how has everything changed for you since you’ve won the dunk contest?
JT: Man, it’s been crazy. I think April 4th is ‘Jacob Tucker Day’ in all of Illinois now [laughs]. I never thought that would happen. I went to the House of Representatives and to the Senate and got to meet all those people and I’m being flown out to Washington, DC and I’m supposed to play in some kind of pick-up game with Aaron Schock (United States Representative for Illinois’s 18th Congressional District). I’m not sure if I’m going to get a chance to meet the President or not, but just crazy stuff like that.
SLAM: So since you’re a senior in college now, what’s next for you in your basketball career?
JT: Well I’ve had a lot of options and things come up like going to tryouts and playing overseas, but I thought I had it made up in my mind during the season that when I was done this year I was ready to move on to the next stage of my life and I’d just been preparing myself for that for a while. But now that all of these other offers and things are coming up, I’m not really looking into them as much as people would probably want me to just because I was ready to move on with my life. I was ready to move on to something else. I already had a job lined up doing some personal training and as of right now I plan to try and stick to that.
SLAM: So obviously you would continue to play basketball, but you have other things in your life that you want to do.
SLAM: I’m surprised Team Flight Brothers haven’t reached out to you yet.
JT: Oh, they have. I talk to Charles Millan (Owner and Operator of TFB) all the time now, actually. But I’m going to be in a contest for them on May 21st at Central Park in New York. So I’ll be doing some work with them now.
SLAM: Well I’m sure coming from such a small school life has been crazy since you won the dunk contest, but it’s pretty cool what you’ve done and I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide to do moving forward.
JT: Yeah it has, but it’s been a lot of fun. And thanks so much, it was fun talking to you.