Floyd’s Tori Tucker and Dora’s Kelli Merrick, friendly rivals in recent years on the basketball court, have decided to join forces.
The two area standouts singed national letters-of-intent on Friday to play basketball at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, under one-time Eastern New Mexico University men’s coach Earl Diddle.
Tucker led Floyd to the Class 1A girls state championship as a junior and has been a multi-sport standout for the Lady Broncos for a number of years — and, last year, for the Floyd baseball team as well.
Howard, a two-year school competing in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference, and ENMU were the only schools to recruit the girls for basketball. Tucker also had inquiries for volleyball from Adams State and Odessa College, and in track (javelin) from Duke, Texas State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, West Point and Houston.
Basketball, though, is her first love. “There’s nothing better,” she said.
Merrick said she thought about not playing in college, but was afraid she might regret not trying.
Tucker said having Merrick along and knowing other New Mexico recruits have succeeded at Howard helped her in her decision.
“I’m pretty much a mama’s girl and I know I will miss my family, but it’s good that I’ll have a friend like Kelli there,” Tucker said. “It’ll make the transition easier.”
Diddle believes both players will adjust to college competition.
“If you can play, you can play,” he said. “There will be growing pains, and the quickness of the players will be different, but I feel they’ll stay with it and make the adjustments they need to.”
He said Tucker projects as a small forward/shooting guard and the 6-foot Merrick as a post or power forward for the Lady Hawks.
“But in our system, we play four out and one in, so they could play multiple positions,” Diddle said.