Jordan Tucker relaxing in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Tucker is currently sitting out a year after transferring from Duke. Photo by Jimmy Lafakis.
JOSHUA DOERING | ASST. SPORTS EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter is the best place for a basketball junkie to be, which explains why Butler men’s basketball player Jordan Tucker has quite the social media presence.
Kobe Bryant tweets “Rest In Peace my brother #RasualButler.” Retweet. St. John’s Shamorie Ponds posts a picture with his arms outstretched in the aftermath of the Red Storm’s upset win over Duke. Retweet.
A Duke women’s basketball player scores a career high, and Jordan Tucker is already quoting the team tweet, making sure everyone knows exactly how good she is, using the hashtag #shesaproblem.
Scroll through his Twitter activity and you’ll quickly find a pattern: Jordan Tucker is a basketball junkie.
“I love basketball,” Tucker said. “All I do is watch basketball, study basketball.”
Ranked No. 42 overall by ESPN, Tucker, a transfer from Duke, is the most decorated recruit in Butler history.
When you love a sport the way Tucker loves basketball, you do more than play it. When you love basketball the way Tucker does, playing and studying the sport isn’t enough. So, he found a third way to get involved — coaching.
Because NCAA rules require he sit out a year, Tucker’s roommate Michael Chinn brought up the idea of joining their intramural basketball team, Tanking for Draft Picks.
It was eventually decided Tucker wouldn’t play for safety and NCAA reasons, but he stayed on as Tanking for Draft Picks’ coach. The name is ironic, because when your team’s coach is Jordan Tucker, the general consensus is that your team is going to do the opposite of tanking.
Even if you won’t see him play in Hinkle until late next calendar year, wander into the HRC on a Thursday and Jordan is there, imparting wisdom on his team.
He might draw up some plays later on, but right now the focus is on fundamentals, specifically rotating on defense.
“A lot of the guys on the team don’t necessarily know where to go, where to cover down, stuff like that,” Chinn said. “We did not play well our first game but we can still make some moves.”
You might have even stumbled across the video of him dunking. He palms the ball in right hand while spinning a full 360 degrees before throwing it down.
— Ryan Brown (@WaCanBROWNdo4U) February 2, 2018
As a high school junior, the White Plains, New York, native averaged nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds at Archbishop Stepinac. After his family moved, Tucker finished his high school career at Wheeler High School in Georgia.
Duke, Arizona, Kansas and Villanova were among the schools that offered scholarships.
He chose Duke. After seeing just 14 minutes of action and scoring six points in two games, the school announced he was transferring at the end of December.
“It was pretty simple for me. I just needed playing time,” Tucker said in a phone interview with The News and Observer at the time. “Nothing negative. I just needed to play at the end of the day. And Coach [Mike Krzyzewski] understands it. It was a mutual agreement.”
Eager for more playing time and a chance to be “one of the key guys,” the list of potential transfer options narrowed down to Butler and Georgetown. On Jan. 15, Tucker decided to become a Bulldog.
“I wanted to go to a school where the basketball history was something that everyone cared about,” Tucker said. “I always wanted to go to a basketball school, where the foundation of the school is basketball, where everybody’s support and love goes toward basketball.”
Duke is a basketball school. But so is Butler.
Bulldog nation erupted. Hundreds of Butler fans went to Twitter to welcome Tucker to Indianapolis.
“He’s a good dude, funny guy, hard worker,” Butler redshirt junior guard Paul Jorgensen said. “He’s gonna bring a lot to our team, a lot to Butler. I think people are really gonna love him.”
One person even put him in a Boston Celtics uniform, citing the odd amount of connections he has to the organization.
— Akshay Ram (@ByAkshayRam) January 16, 2018
Tucker went to the same high school as Jaylen Brown, the same college as Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving, transferred from Duke like Semi Ojeleye. He now attends the same school Gordon Hayward played at and Brad Stevens led to two national championship games. Stevens currently coaches all five players with the Celtics.
“That was kind of weird,” Tucker said, referring to the tweet. “It was really trippy. It was one of those things that you were like — they made me believe it.”
Coincidences aside, if you ask Tucker, talent isn’t the reason some of the most storied programs in college basketball recruited him.
“People say I’m a talented player,” Jordan said. “But a lot of the reason I’ve been successful is because I’ve studied the game.”
That emphasis on studying comes from his dad, who Tucker said studied the game himself and passed on what he learned to his son.
Lewis Tucker is a former music executive at Uptown Records and Universal Music group. He worked with hip-hop mogul Diddy’s Sean Combs Enterprises.
Much of Tucker’s childhood was spent around basketball, including in gyms watching NBA players work out. He even got to meet Michael Jordan. It didn’t take long for him to realize he wanted to be like them.
“I didn’t understand it at first,” Tucker said. “But just being around that at such a young age, it’s hard not to fall in love with something.”
Once Tucker can suit up for the Bulldogs after the conclusion of the 2018 fall semester, he figures to play a crucial role on the team.
Butler’s leading scorer, Kelan Martin, graduates after this season. Tucker is listed at 6 feet 7 inches, the exact same height as Martin. Both forwards are viewed as natural scorers, making Tucker a logical person to fill the hole created by Martin’s departure.
Still, there are question marks. Tucker only has 14 minutes of college basketball under his belt and will have gone a full calendar year without playing a competitive game.
Some people wonder about his motivations, whether he came to Butler simply so he could be a star, which conflicts with The Butler Way. He’s aware of the criticism.
“I was upset at first that I didn’t get to have a chance to prove myself or someone get to see me play with these guys,” Tucker said. “If they were in practice with us everyday, I think they would disagree with that because I fit in here well with all my teammates.”
He’s been spotted at women’s basketball games with his new teammates, Jerald Gillens-Butler and Jorgensen.
“I think he’s hungry to improve,” head coach LaVall Jordan said. “He really wants to work and get better. That’s something that we talked about when he visited, is his development and then buying into team.”
When you love a sport the way Jordan Tucker loves basketball, you play it, study it, coach it. When you love basketball the way Tucker does, it helps shape your life.
“I love this game because it opens so many doors for you,” Tucker said. “I’ve met so many great people, on and off the court, because of basketball and I don’t think I would be where I’m at right now without basketball.”