Jerrod Tucker

Jerrod Tucker, Oakton Alum ’07
Jerrod W. Tucker ’07
Meet Jerrod W. Tucker—Distinguished Alumni Honoree ’23, Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Hall of Fame inductee and head coach of the Jacksonville 95ers. Beyond his achievements, Jerrod’s story is about the power of connections, inspiring a ripple effect of giving. The profound impact he makes beyond the court like his work as the Dean at a charter school and his charity work in his community truly sets Jerrod’s story apart.

Assists off the Court
Jerrod credits basketball for giving him another choice. He recalls people in his neighborhood who rallied around him and looked out for him as he blazed a new path forward. As his basketball skills improved, he became more competitive in the sport. His passion for competing brought him to Oakton’s campus where he made lifelong connections.

“When I first got to Oakton it was a culture shock. My first three weeks on campus I was determined not to like Oakton. Soon I met some amazing teammates and we became close, even living off-campus together. I learned how to talk to different groups of people—making friends outside of the basketball team, which helped me adjust.”

“There were many professors and staff that poured into me and my teammates. Going into my second year, Oakton created a mentorship program and Dr. Joianne Smith—who was appointed Oakton College’s President in 2015—was assigned to be my mentor. She changed my whole perspective of Oakton. She made sure I stayed on track, helped me get my classes together and helped me prepare to transfer. Dr. Joianne Smith is literally one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never met someone that just wanted to pour into me as much as she did.”

A Winning Playbook
Jerrod attributes his success at Oakton to impactful individuals, like his professors, Oakton staff and President Smith. With a scholarship, he transferred to Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor's degree in sports management. He credits his experiences at Oakton for the growth and preparation he needed to finish his college career in a state where he had no family or friends. Today, Jerrod uses basketball as a tool to share with others what he has learned through the sport.

“When our team started winning at Oakton it changed the culture of the school. As captain, I was the ringleader—making sure everyone was straight with classes, on time to practice and listening to Coach. We didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and when we came together it was like nobody could stop us. In 2007, we [Oakton's Men's Basketball team] took our first trip to the national tournament. I look back and think about how much basketball has given me, and it makes me want to give that to others. The younger kids need mentors, to show them the ropes, but also to show them that basketball can take them in a different direction from where they are going. This sport teaches life lessons; how to work with people, how to listen and how to make a team work. Pretty much everything in life you can learn from basketball.”

“Here in Jacksonville, Florida, I’ve done Ronald McDonald House and been to 75 different schools giving back, reading to kids. I’m a Dean and head varsity basketball coach at a local charter school. I have two daughters, but I have eight hundred adopted children. They ask for advice for all their problems, for whatever reason—like I have all the answers. This is the work that brings me joy.”

Community MVP
As the head coach of the Jacksonville 95ers, a men's professional basketball team based in Jacksonville, Florida, that competes in The Basketball League (TBL), Jerrod is excited to assemble his team and tap into “the show.”

“After I stopped playing professionally I needed that feeling I had when I was an athlete. I call it the show. Every athlete has felt it—it’s the feeling you get when the game starts and you can feel that competitive fire. People are watching and you can’t get past that feeling. It’s the same as a coach making a game plan and making sure your plan is better than the other coaches. The Jacksonville 95ers is a brand-new start-up team, but I think we are going to be pretty good. I mean I like winning, so I’m going to put together the best group I can.”

Jerrod also plans on finding ways for the team to become active community members, volunteering their time and support locally. Jerrod and his wife have started a non-profit organization called Stin Agape where they do outreach for the homeless population, and another program called A Walk in My Shoes where they collect shoe donations for families in need—combining his love for shoes with his desire to make a difference in his community.

“My wife and I feel that we have been fortunate to come up on success. Giving back is one of those things where you just have to do it. Once you bless someone, it always comes back to you and then you can continue to bless others. You don't need to be seen doing good, it just needs to happen. A Walk in My Shoes was created to give donated, slightly used shoes to those in need at no cost. I have a shoe addiction, so I love to see the confidence boost someone has when they put on those shoes that they would otherwise not have. If I can make a person feel better about how they look or feel about themselves I’m all for that.”