Scott Stucky was nervous when he found himself in an airplane several thousand feet over the Midwest.
Stucky, a senior at Dublin Coffman High School, isn't afraid of flying, but he was heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., for an official visit and wasn't sure what he was going to find when he got there.
Were there going to be instructors lined up inches from the face of young freshmen barking out orders at decibels worthy of the plane he was in? Who knew?
Fortunately, Stucky didn't happen upon such a scene. What he found was a comfortable place where he could envision himself for the next four years. So Stucky accepted an appointment to the academy and will be a part of the Falcons' Division I men's basketball program.
"Before the visit, I was nervous," said Stucky, a four-year lettterwinner. "I expected guys yelling at people like a boot camp. But it was actually kind of relaxed. I sat in on some classes, and they were tough, but that was OK. Everyone there was in it together and was helping each other. I realized if they could do it I could, too."
Stucky chose Air Force over several Division II schools, including Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn.
Stucky, a 6-foot-2 guard, will realize a childhood dream when he takes the court for the Falcons. He always has wanted to play basketball at college's highest level and Air Force will present that.
The Falcons are in the Mountain West Conference, which had five teams in postseason tournaments last season. UNLV and Brigham Young were in the NCAA tournament, New Mexico and San Diego State were in the NIT and Utah was in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
"This has always been a goal of mine," Stucky said. "The Mountain West Conference is really competitive. UNLV and BYU are always good, and New Mexico has Steve Alford as coach and they're really good, too.
"We're going to be kind of young this season, but hopefully we'll mix it up and try to make a tournament run. That is everyone's goal -- to play in the (NCAA tournament)."
The Falcons have qualified for the NCAA tournament four times, most recently when they went 24-7 in the 2005-06 season. They followed by going 26-9 and reaching an NIT semifinal the next year.
Last season under first-year coach Jeff Reynolds, Air Force went 16-14 overall and 8-8 in the league.
Reynolds, who was an assistant for the Falcons for two years before taking over, envisions Stucky as a lead guard.
It is a role similar to what Stucky did for Coffman this season. He averaged 14.5 points a game and had three contests in which he scored more than 27. But he also had games in which he scored in single figures as he was distributing the ball to teammates.
He was first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division for the second consecutive season and third-team all-district in Division I.
Stucky, who averaged 13.8 points as a junior and 10.5 points as a sophomore, finished with 883 points in his career, second all-time to 2002 graduate Chris Quinn, who went on to Notre Dame and just finished his second season with the Miami Heat.
"He has been a part of a similar offense for three years," Coffman coach Jamey Collins said. "If he goes in and performs, he'll have a chance to play right away. He felt comfortable when he visited and played with them. He felt like he belonged. I really think this is the right fit at the right time for everyone."
Stucky is looking forward to taking on the role on the court for the Falcons.
"It felt familiar (playing with the Air Force players on his visit)," he said. "I feel I can play the off-guard. I can knock down shots, flash a little bit, handle the ball and manage the team. I'm really looking forward to it."
Stucky will head to basic training in June. He has been told its tough, but that, "It's all downhill from there." Collins isn't worried at all about Stucky handling the rigors of the academy's academic curriculum while playing Division I athletics.
"I think he is a good fit for it," Collins said. "I think at a school like ours you need to have structured days to be a top student-athlete. It's a different type of structure of course, but he can adapt because he's already been a part of a structured environment for four years."
With his father, Jedd Stucky, watching, Coffman's Scott Stucky accepts an appointment April 16 to the Air Force Academy.