Syracuse has had a lot of tremendous wing players under Jim Boeheim, including Billy Owens and Carmelo Anthony. Coach Boeheim hasn’t stopped loading up on potential difference makers to plug into his 2-3 zone and put points up in a hurry on offense, particularly with Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon joining the Orange next season. But Jimmy B also has his eyes on 2017 and in-state recruit Jordan Tucker, who’s already developing a national reputation as one of the best wings in his class.
Tucker is a 6-foot-7 swingman from White Plains is ranked as the No. 20 player in America in the class of 2017, thanks in large part to his versatility on the wing and his ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot. Tucker has been putting up points in a hurry throughout his sophomore season for his Archbishop Stepinac squad. In his last game against Archbishop Molloy, Tucker exploded for 38 points and added 10 boards and five dimes, showing off his all-around skills in a one point loss.
Watching Tucker play, there are a lot of things to like about his game, and which make it easy to see why Syracuse is so keen on inking the skilled wing – who was the first player offered in the class of 2017 by the Orange. He’s certainly got the ability to score in bunches, and he’s been controlling the glass throughout the season. In another recent game, Tucker scored 25 points and grabbed 14 boards with several Division I coaches in attendance. Not surprisingly, they walked away impressed.
That’s a big part of the reason the long, versatile forward is garnering early attention from not only Syracuse but also schools like Michigan, Connecticut, and Arizona, as well as Seton Hall. Winning the battles for in state kids that it wants is always of great importance to Jim Boeheim and his staff, though obviously it doesn’t always turn out the way Orange fans would hope. Just ask anyone who followed the Sam Perkins, Kenny Anderson, Christian Laettner, Stephon Marbury, and Julius Hodge recruitments, along with several other more recent examples.
But a big key could be the fact that unlike some of those other players, Tucker should be able to see that he fits a pretty specific mold of wing that Boeheim has been recruiting for awhile now. Tucker is long and skilled, and while he’s not an elite athlete, he’s certainly got plenty of agility to be an impact defender in the zone. But it’s his offensive skill set that sets him apart and must have coaches drooling.
Tucker has proven to be an adept perimeter scorer, although I don’t particularly like the way he starts the ball so low and directly in front of his body on some of the jump shots in the video above. It has a tendency to slow down his motion and lead to him sort of swinging the ball through his midsection and up into shooting position. And while Tucker is a solid ball handler, there are several instances where his handle starts to look a little shaky. Now, keep in mind he’s not going to be asked to play point guard, and he’s still only a sophomore. His handle is very solid for his age and position, and will just continue to get better as both his game and his body mature.
The physical maturity is going to be a key for Tucker as he blossoms into a potentially elite prospect over the next couple seasons. I mentioned that he’s not an explosive athlete, and that might be what ultimately keeps him from cracking the top 10 national rankings. In a lot of ways, he’s similar to Malachi Richardson, another high volume wing scorer who is a good, but not great athletically.
Of course on the flip side of that equation, over the last few seasons Syracuse has been bringing in elite athletes who are just okay in terms of basketball skill, and the offense has struggled as a result. I don’t know about you, but I’m perfectly happy bringing in slightly less athletic players if the trade off is an increased skill set. After all, basketball is won by putting the ball in the basket, not by seeing whether you can jump up and get your head above the rim.
In any case, Tucker is absolutely a target to keep an eye on. He will remain a high priority recruit for Boeheim and his staff, and right now the Orange appear to be in a very good position with the young, talented prospect from White Plains.