Powell stuns, signs with Fayetteville Tech

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PIKEVILLE — Charles B. Aycock High multi-sport standout Tanika “Mookie” Powell delivered a jaw-dropping announcement in the school’s media center Thursday afternoon. No one saw it coming.

Regarding her future plans in athletic competition, Powell, the 18-year-old daughter of Corey Dickerson and Alicia Powell, disclosed that she will sign a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at Fayetteville Technical Community College of the National Junior College Athletic Association ranks.

With an athletic program only two years old, Fayetteville Tech offers only women’s basketball and golf. Powell, an all-conference performer in not only basketball but softball and volleyball, plans, after one year with the Trojans, to transfer to East Carolina University and play softball, her sport of choice.

Or she may possibly consider Duke, which will field its first softball team in 2018.

With the words “I need you” from head coach Eric Tucker, Powell decided upon Fayetteville Tech.

“That really made me smile,” the 5-foot-5 Powell expressed. “The coach was very open. They all welcomed me with open arms and they are all going to tell you that they want you. But (Tucker) said: “I don’t want you; I need you.”

Powell also considered Cape Fear Community, Winston-Salem, UNC Pembroke, Barton and Fayetteville State University as her next basketball home.

As to softball possibilities, she quipped: “You would be writing for days.”

Powell described the recruiting process as “very, very long. I couldn’t find a place I could call home. I’ve never really sat on the bench. I will play at Fayetteville Tech.”

She plans to pursue a degree in sports management and stressed the importance of academic and athletic balance. Powell explained that, if she feels she is struggling with her studies, she will not consider playing two sports at the collegiate level.

She’s played four with the Lady Golden Falcons of the 3-A/4-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

Although sidelined with a major knee injury that required surgery her freshman year, Powell started four years on the varsity in basketball and three in volleyball and softball. She left her mark as a sprinter for two years in track, She rehabbed excessively and defied forecasts she might never again compete in sports following the surgery.

With CBA a 3-A member of the ECC, Powell has been proclaimed all-conference on four occasions in basketball, twice in softball (not including the current season) and once in volleyball.

The Lady Falcons’ volleyball team reached the third round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A playoffs and the softball team travels to Hillsborough Orange on Friday evening for a fourth-round playoffs assignment. Powell plays third base and bats at the top of the lineup.

In her senior season with the basketball team, Powell, at point guard, averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. She led in assists and ranked second in rebounding and scoring.

She describes her CBA career as “very challenging and very, very fun. I received and learned a whole lot of respect and, on the basketball team, I felt I could trust anybody.”

Tangela Faulkner, Powell’s head coach in basketball and volleyball, spoke of her speed, explosiveness, aggressiveness and leadership. Faulkner noted Powell was especially adept at spotting an open teammate and getting the basketball to her with a catchable pass. Faulkner emphasized, with the game on the line, she wanted the basketball in Powell’s hands.

“I played at the University of Mount Olive,” Faulkner said, “and I haven’t seen a player like her in a long time. She was my drill sergeant; she got you where you were supposed to be. She knew how to find holes and she sees you at the other end of the floor. I will miss her voice, her energy and the intense fire in her eyes.”

Faulkner assured she supports the decision of her star point guard, who will play either point or shooting guard at Fayetteville Tech.

“I am happy with her decision,” Faulkner continued. “I want her to be comfortable with where she decides to go. I believe she thought long and hard. It’s important to know that she’s going to make an immediate impact. But she can go anywhere.”

Powell spoke of the need to be pushed daily and, with only seven players on the CBA varsity basketball team, she sought a situation where she would have to compete for playing time.

“They have a really good point guard,” Powell acknowledged, “but that’s OK. I’ll work harder.”

Powell is understandably proud that her athletic prowess is rewarding her with an opportunity to obtain a college education.

“But I feel like I have worked hard enough,” she declared.

Added Faulkner: “Every team needs an alpha female. That was Mookie!”

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