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|TraCee Nicole Tanner (left) could exceed her sister, Tyrese (right), who is starting her freshman year at Auburn.|
Like many oldest children, Tyrese Tanner had to serve as a guinea pig of sorts for her parents as they tried a bunch of things for the first time.
As Tyrese -- known as "Ty" to her family and friends -- grew into a 6-foot-3 athlete, her mother, Teresa, decided she would coach her in basketball, and see how it went.
The experiment went pretty well, considering that Ty will suit up for Auburn University this winter.
Basketball runs in the Tanner blood and now the attention has turned to Ty's little sister, TraCee Nicole.
A thick 6-foot-2 with a noticeable toughness in the paint, the 2012 prospect from Hoover, Ala., has caught the eye of multiple schools. She already has offers from Auburn, Arkansas, Southern Miss, Texas, Ohio State, Alabama and UAB and according to her mom, is just scratching the surface of her potential.
"She's one of the strongest, biggest centers coming out of Alabama," said Teresa, who is an assistant with TraCee Nicole's club team, the Alabama Twisters.
For the first time this past spring and summer, TraCee Nicole played with her own age group. She had played up with Ty's group for the past three years, learning how to score and defend against bigger, stronger, more experienced players.
|Tyrese Tanner helped Hoover High School to the Alabama state title and was ranked No. 75 in the 2010 class by ESPN HoopGurlz.|
"She's always held her own against older kids and if she keeps working at it she can be better than me," said Ty, who was sidelined this summer with a torn labrum and dislocated right shoulder, all of which required surgery.
Ty then rolled her eyes, and admitted something with a sigh.
"She could probably beat me one-on-one."
At Hoover High School, TraCee Nicole stays on the block most of the time, content to play with her back to the basket. With the Twisters she has started to step out to the wing position more, and is trying to develop a better perimeter game.
"I like club ball because I get to be more diverse," said TraCee Nicole. "Because I played with older kids for so long, I can see the game better now, analyze better and my acceleration is better now."
TraCee Nicole started to play up with Ty when they were both in middle school -- TraCee Nicole in the sixth grade and Ty in the eighth grade -- with Teresa coaching them.
Playing the role of coach and mom simultaneously is a constant push-pull, and Teresa says it can be hard to balance. Take, for example, when Ty got injured this spring in the Alabama state tournament.
In a situation where lots of parents would pull their kids from play without a second thought, Teresa looked at it from a coach's perspective; she knew her daughter could play through pain.
"If I were just a parent I'd say, 'Aww, baby, it's OK, come here,' and pull her out," Teresa said, laughing. "But as a coach, I'm was like, 'You need to suck it up, let's go.' "
The tough love paid off. Ty returned to lead Hoover to the state title, and now the reigns will be passed to TraCee Nicole as she enters her junior year. It will be a pressure-packed situation for the young forward, but Teresa believes the baby of the family is up to the challenge.
"I always tell my friends, Nicole is the post player I always wanted to be," Teresa said.
Early on, Teresa Tanner saw what her daughters could become, and wanted to push them to reach their potential. Ty has already achieved her goal of earning a college scholarship, and Teresa hopes TraCee Nicole is next.
And this will probably come to be, despite the fact that when she was little, TraCee Nicole wanted to be a cheerleader. But Teresa, sensing her daughter's growth spurt and strength, steered her toward basketball.
After all, mom does know best.
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