05/19/17 — SIGNING: Golden Falcon's Powell headed to Fayetteville Tech

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SIGNING: Golden Falcon's Powell headed to Fayetteville Tech

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 19, 2017 10:23 AM

PIKEVILLE -- Selling an athletic program, regardless of the sport, is a difficult task for any college coach.

Eric Tucker made it look easy.

Tanika "Mookie" Powell couldn't believe what she heard.

"I don't want you, I need you," said Tucker, head women's basketball coach at Fayetteville Tech.

Powell, a senior at Charles B. Aycock, hadn't heard that during her previous visits to other schools.

"That was something different," Powell said. "He told me what he expected from me. Then he asked me what I expected from him. We talked about the stuff that I'll bring to the team that others won't bring to the team."

Powell still seemed stunned.

"Are you OK?" Tucker asked.

"Yes sir, I'm very happy," smiled Powell.

A long, tiring and challenging recruiting process had finally ended. Powell will sign a national letter-of-intent to play basketball for the Trojans next season. However, the confident three-sport athlete -- who stands a mere 5 feet, 5 inches tall -- plans to keep her options open while at the Division II Region X junior college school.

Powell wants to pursue her passion -- softball. Either East Carolina or Duke, which will field its first-ever softball team next spring, is within her sights.

The statement surprised head volleyball and varsity girls' basketball coach Tangela Faulkner, who ironically launched her athletic career in the JUCO ranks.

"I'm happy with her decision," Faulkner said. "I want her to be comfortable with where she decides to go. I believe she thought long and hard about what would be best for her. When a coach says 'I need you,' I think that's important for her to know that's she going to make an immediate impact."

Powell served as the Golden Falcons' "drill sergeant" on the basketball court this season. Her alpha mentality provided energy, intensity and her vocal presence motivated her teammates.

Faulkner knew that the speedy point/shooting guard could take command of a ballgame at any time. And despite her size, Powell didn't hesitate to drive to the basket -- or challenge for a rebound -- against taller opponents.

She always wanted the basketball in clutch situations.

Powell averaged 9.1 points, 3 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. She earned all-Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference accolades and was a second-team News-Argus All-Area selection.

CBA finished 12-12 overall this past winter.

"I expect to be pushed, coach (Faulkner) pushes me all the time," said Powell, who plans to major in sports management. "I'm the type of person that I have to stay on top of my grades. If the grades and basketball click together, and I can do another sport, then I will.

"If I feel like I'm kind of struggling, I'm going to stick to one sport."

Will that be softball?