Los Angeles Preps: Dakarai Tucker

Serra's Dakarai Tucker commits to Utah

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
3:49
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Gardena Serra forward Dakarai Tucker, one of the area's top unsigned seniors, will sign with Utah.

Tucker averaged 11 points and five rebounds in leading Serra to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA basketball title. He also strongly considered Saint Mary's.

"I just have that vibe that Utah is the place for me," Tucker said.

Tucker is the 27th-ranked player in the state for the class of 2012, according to ESPN.

Serra knocks off LV Lutheran in 4AA

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
7:28
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ANAHEIM -- Kajon Mack and Dakarai Tucker were sophomores when Gardena Serra won section and state titles two years ago. They were handed championship rings but, with guys Marqise Lee doing most of the heavy lifting, it didn't quite feel right.

The senior duo felt grand Thursday afternoon, as Serra captured the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA crown with a 69-59 victory against La Verne Lutheran at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Fellow senior Daddy Ugbede scored 32 points on 14-for-20 shooting, out-dueling Lutheran's Grant Jerrett, an Arizona-bound forward and the state's only McDonald's All-American.

"It feels good to be a part of this now," Mack said smiling.

Tucker added 21 points for top-seeded Serra, which pulled away late in a game that featured 15 lead changes and nine ties. The Del Rey League-champion Cavaliers capitalized on their size advantage down low, out-rebounding the Trojans 36-20 and forcing Jerrett, Lutheran's only big, into foul trouble.

"I'm a firm believer in whoever controls the boards, controls the game," Serra coach Dwan Hurt said. "That's what we talked about in practice."

Serra (29-2) had 10 second-chance points and it proved to be the difference. Jerrett picked up his fourth foul with 1:32 remaining in the third quarter, paving the way for the 6-foot-7 Ugbede. The student section serenaded him with chants of "Who's your Daddy?"

"La Verne Lutheran is a very good team," Hurt said. "We just persevered out there. Once we got rid of Jerrett, Daddy basically had his way down low."

Jerrett finished with 19 points but only five rebounds. Eric Cooper Jr. scored 12 points and Brian Beard had 11 for Lutheran, which now turn its attention a state tournament it has won the last two years.

"If Serra does play us again they know it will be a game," Lutheran coach Eric Cooper Sr. said. "It will definitely be a game. I look forward to state and seeing what these guys do when they step on the court again."

Mack and Tucker, meanwhile, were giddy in the postgame media room, knowing they had just won arguably the most difficult division in the state.

"There's a difference when you're on the bench than being a part of it," Hurt said. "This one is probably more meaningful to them because they know they had a part in it."

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

L.A. South: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
6:20
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Loyola, Long Beach Poly and La Verne Lutheran are ranked in the preseason POWERADE ESPNHS Fab 50 national rankings, and they lead the way in our opening edition of the south Los Angeles County boys' basketball top 10:

1. Loyola (4-0)
Key players: PG Parker Jackson-Cartwright, SG Justin Childress, SG Jacob Hazzard, SF Julian Harrell (Penn)
Last season: The Cubs went 25-6 and won the CIF-Southern Section Div. I-A championship before losing by two to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Jackson-Cartwright, only a sophomore, is already considered the top point guard in the state. Mix in the shooting of Childress and Hazzard -- as well as the versatility of Harrell -- and the Cubs have a lineup that few can match.

2. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
Key players: SF Roschon Prince, PF Jordan Bell, PG Chris Croom, SG Reuben Strickland
Last season: The Jackrabbits posted a 30-2 record and captured the Division 1AA title in Anaheim before losing to eventual state champion Mater Dei in regionals.
Why they're here: Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer lost his top two to graduation -- state player of the year Ryan Anderson (Boston College) and Alexis Moore (USC) -- but there's more than enough talent left. Prince and Bell might be the best one-two combination in the county.

3. La Verne Lutheran (4-0)
Key players: PF Grant Jerrett (Arizona), SG Eric Cooper Jr. (Arizona), SF McKay Anderson, SG Cameron Osorno
Last season: The Trojans overcame off-the-court adversity, finishing with a 25-5 mark and a second consecutive state championship.
Why they're here: Jerrett, a long and lean power forward, is arguably the top prospect on the West Coast. Coach Eric Cooper Sr. returns nine letter-winners from last year's team, including son Eric Cooper Jr., a sharp-shooting junior who makes teams pay for double-teaming Jerrett down low.

4. St. John Bosco (4-0)
Key players: SG Isaac Hamilton, PF Anthony January (UTEP), SF Darryl Matthews, SG Daniel Hamilton
Last season: The Braves finished 21-9 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 4AA playoffs.
Why they're here: New coach Derrick Taylor, who built Woodland Hills Taft into a City Section power, has the Braves thinking about the Trinity League crown. Getting past defending state champion Mater Dei won't be easy, but Bosco has Isaac Hamilton, a transfer from Crenshaw who is one of the nation's top juniors.

5. Price (3-1)
Key players: PF Skylar Spencer (San Diego State), PG Chance Murray, SG Chris Sandifer
Last season: The high-flying Knights went 24-8 and fell just short against La Caņada in the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship game.
Why they're here: Yes, Price lost guard Askia Booker (Colorado) and ultra athletic forward Norvel Pelle to graduation but don't dismiss coach Michael Lynch's bunch. Spencer is another high-soaring scorer who's lethal in fast break opportunities, and Murray, a junior, already has a scholarship offer from UCLA.

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