TCC basketball standout James earns academic honors

Rita James, a native of Nigeria, managed her transition to perform well in women’s basketball and in the classroom.
Photo courtesy of Greg Rowland

By Luke Fay
TCC athletics

Tallahassee Community College women’s basketball student-athlete Rita James has been named the recipient of the Dr. Bertha Flowers Murray Award for Academic Excellence. 

The namesake of the award, Bertha Flowers Murray, was the College’s founding Dean of Academic Support Programs (now Transitional Studies) and former Vice President of Special Projects.    

The award is given annually to a student who completed and excelled in two or more developmental courses offered through the program while maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA. James was nominated by her former instructor, Sharisse Turner, the college’s Dean of Transitional Studies.   

“These courses provide students with instruction and strategies to support success in the classroom while also helping students develop life management and leadership skills and provide students with tools for career planning,” Turner said.   

Head women’s basketball coach Matt Huddleston knows the effort it took for James to be a success in Tallahassee.    

“We are extremely proud of Rita. It is already difficult for an international student to come to America and make the transition into college as a student-athlete,” Huddleston said. “TCC’s transitional studies program provided her the opportunity to thrive. We are blown away with the success she has achieved and look forward to cheering her on as she continues her career as a student-athlete at (University of) Central Arkansas.”  

James, a native of Nigeria, started the program upon arrival at TCC in the summer of 2019 and has excelled academically, earning herself a 3.63 GPA with the school. 

James parlayed her basketball and academic success into a scholarship at the University of Central Arkansas. The future Sugar Bear student-athlete plans to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s in accounting in Conway, Ark.   

In 2020, James was named to the NJCAA All-Academic Second-Team with more academic accolades on the way this summer.   

On the court this past season, the sophomore guard averaged 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 games and was a second-team All-Panhandle Conference selection. 

Outside of athletics participation, James was a member of the Math Champions peer mentoring program and served as a student representative during the college’s fall 2020 site review for the Aspen Prize. 

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