TAMPA — Tesha Hanson never felt any pressure to play basketball like her father. So at first she didn’t.
The 15-year-old Seffner Christian sophomore is the youngest daughter of USF men’s basketball assistant coach Reggie Hanson, a college standout at Kentucky who had an eight-year pro career — mostly in Japan — before going into the college coaching ranks.
Now his daughter is Hillsborough County’s leading scorer, averaging 24.7 points a game and leading the Crusaders to their first state tournament game Wednesday morning at the Lakeland Center.
But growing up, Tesha wanted little to do with basketball. She was more interested in dancing, cheerleading and tennis. And when her father was an assistant coach at Kentucky, Tesha would rather be anywhere than UK’s Rupp Arena on game days.
“She might have been 4 or 5 years old,” Reggie Hanson said. “Our seats would be three rows back. We’d be at the game, and Teesh would be like, ‘It’s too loud in here.’ So she’d go hang out with her friends during the game and we’d go pick her up afterward.”
Now the 5-foot-9 Tesha is one of the Tampa Bay area’s most dynamic girls basketball players, and the No. 1 reason tiny Seffner Christian — which has just 220 high school students — will be playing in the Class A state semifinal against Lake Worth Trinity Christian.
Tesha was always around the game. She watched her older sister, Sakia, play. When she got older, she would be an occasional ball girl at UK games.
But Tesha has embraced hoops on her own terms. In an age where parents push kids to their breaking points, Reggie Hanson offered quiet support and a helping hand with his daughter.
“He won’t bug me about anything,” Tesha said. “He’ll say, ‘If you want to go to the gym, just tell me. If you want to go on a run, just tell me.’ It’s never, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ ” He’s really calm and chill about it. That’s wonderful, because I’m the kind of person who if you force me, I’ll do it, but it won’t go well at all.”
Both father and daughter joke about her first days playing basketball in fifth grade. She was fast, but would clank layups off the backboard so hard they’d bounce to the 3-point line.
A lot has changed since then. Just last week, while Reggie Hanson, in his fourth season on Stan Heath’s Bulls staff, was watching game film at home in preparation for a game with Georgetown, his daughter walked into the room and broke down the Hoyas’ defense.
“She’s got a great basketball IQ,” Reggie Hanson said. “The biggest thing is I let her enjoy learning how to play the game. I don’t put any pressure on her at all. You see a lot of parents yelling and coaching during a game. I don’t do that. I’ve taught Teesh how to play, but once she’s on the court, you’ve got to let her figure it out.”
She plays big, but she is admittedly shy. She’s blossomed in a small-school environment after transferring from Class 6A Wharton last year. (She attended Lexington Christian Academy when Reggie was a UK assistant for seven years). She’s still uncomfortable in the spotlight.
The only thing loud about Tesha is the funky black, pink and orange game socks, but internally she has her father’s competitiveness.
She’s competitive with her grades. She admits that a missed layup will linger, but not as much as a C on an exam.
And Tesha said she aims to break her father’s high-school scoring mark of 1,600 points. Earlier this season, she scored her 1,000th point, a rare feat for a sophomore.
Reggie Hanson also won a state title his senior year. And Tesha has her eyes on that accomplishment.
“I’m always like, ‘Where are your records. I’m going to beat them,’ ” she said laughing. “That’s our relationship. We have fun with it, but I’m always saying I want to beat him.”
State girls basketball
All games at the Lakeland Center. Admission is $9 per session; parking is $7 per day. All finals on BHSN.
A: Trinity Christian vs. Seffner Christian, 10 a.m.; FAMU vs. Hollywood Christian, 11:30
2A: Lafayette vs. Sagemont, 2:30; Florida Air vs. Naples Community School, 4
3A: Rickards vs. North Broward Prep, 7; Atlantic vs. Tampa Catholic, 8:30.
On the Web
We’ll be covering the games involving local teams live on the Web at tampabay.com/hometeam.