By Michael O'Brien

Don't bet against Alando Tucker

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Ron Kremer of the Joliet Herald-News weighs in on the other area-bred player that was drafted in the first round last week...

Here he goes again.

Alando Tucker is heading down a familiar path. The former Lockport High School and University of Wisconsin basketball standout now must prove he's got NBA game.

Tucker, the young man who once answered his cell phone to the ring of "The People's Court" theme song, played at Lockport during a time when rival Joliet Township ruled the area roost. Judged as something of a 'tweener', he was recruited lightly. He wanted to go to Illinois. He ended up at Wisconsin.

He spent five glorious years in Madison, counting one lost to a foot injury. He bounced back from a medical redshirt season in 2003-04 to earn Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a fifth-year senior. Tucker averaged 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 2006-2007.

He led the Badgers to a school-record 17 straight victories and their first taste of No. 1 in The Associated Press poll. His 2,217 career points smashed the all-time Wisconsin scoring record once held by Michael Finley.

Tucker won the Lowe's Senior CLASS award. And he was featured -- along with 7-footer Brian Butch -- on the cover of Sports Illustrated .

Still, when it came time for experts to present their mock NBA drafts, Tucker's name often was omitted from first-round discussions. Many analysts raised the same question that has dogged Tucker for years. At 6-6 and 205 pounds, where would he play? He was deemed too small to fit the "small forward" category in the NBA. And, because Tucker's shooting skills remain a source of concern, he was not rated above many of the top guard prospects.

I was not surprised when the Phoenix Suns went against conventional wisdom on draft day. The Suns, unable to make a deal for T-Wolves star Kevin Garnett and unwilling to otherwise move up, took a chance on Tucker with the 29th pick in the first round. My hunch is Tucker will reward them for that gamble, just as he has rewarded so many others who have given him a chance to show what he's all about.

I base that hunch on what I know of Tucker. I have followed his career and his development since he was a teenager. I always have been impressed by his determination to make something of himself -- and not just on the basketball court. He has talked about returning to his old Fairmont neighborhood and building a sports complex for the next generation of dreamers to call their own.

I think Tucker's best days are ahead. I see him as perfectly suited for the style of play in the Western Conference. He has the athleticism to shine in the open court. At Wisconsin, he was required to play within a system. He learned from coach Bo Ryan the importance of defense. In Phoenix, Tucker will be given a green light at the other end. He can create shots against anyone.

Ron Kremer can be reached at rkremer@scn1.com

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8 Comments

I hope you are correct regarding Tucker. Is there any current NBA players that you could compare Tucker with? I am very excited that the Suns are going to bring up a decent looking rookie. Their last rookie (Dijon Thompson) never had a chance to prove himself on an already heavily talented team. Do you think this kid tucker can run with nash and the rest of the team? Also do you think he will help or hurt on the court with Amare and Marion out there? Thank you for your time.

Steve Kynast
Phoenix, Az.

Steve, in regards to your question, I think he can. I'm from Wisconsin and followed his college career extremely closely as a die-hard Badger fan. I think he can best be compared to Josh Howard. He's kind of out of the same mold-athletic, not the greatest shooter in college, hard working, and a good defender. Howard's probably better on the defensive end, but Tucker learned from the best under Bo Ryan. I personally think he can shine in an up-tempo system. When he got the chance to run at Wisconsin, he took advantage of it. I'm looking forward to seeing him play w/Nash, Marion, et al. I have a feeling he might be throwing down some Steve Nash alley-oops this up coming season. I really don't see him hurting their chances w/Amare and Marion. He's a team-first player who isn't afraid to share the spotlight, and he'll obviously need to as a rookie, but I expect good things from him.

I agree with you that Tucker has got loads of talent and can help out the suns. Being a die hard suns fan i know however that tucker will not be productive in a suns jersey. The suns system is play every starter 40 mins, unless there in foul trouble. He will be fighting for time against a great player in grant hill and i just dont see him seeing much playing time. I hope he plays because he fits the system perfectly with his good speed and scoring abilities and his underrated shooting. My question is do u think he will get any playing time, because i really cant see it happening.

tom mchugh
ptown oregon

I am a die hard Suns fan to the point of analyzing their every move and I have to say that this may not have been the "missing championship piece" that they needed referring to possibly aquiring another powerforward to duo with what I consider the best overall basketball player since Michael Jordan(Amara Stoudamire!) Preferably a long, lengthy powering menace such as Jermain O'Neal which is still available or a guy like Paul Gasol or Zach Randolph which are obtainable for a guy like Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa and if push came to shove even Shawn Marion! All is just as well for the Suns because it's not like they took a step down the "Championship ladder" they just added another motor to a car heading towards an inedable championship!!!

I believe that the suns can win the NBA championship next year because they got DJ Strawberry and Shawn Marion who can both play very good defense. Also they got Steve Nash, Amare Stoudimire, and that very good, depth bench they have to create instint offense when they need it.

I just LOVE all these so-called SUNS fans. If u were a true SUNS fan you would know how to spell AMARE STOUDEMIRE!!!!

i know adam! no real phoenix suns fan would make a typo! oh wait...

The Suns are sure 2 make it this upcoming season to the championship amare's 100%, barbosa off the charts, nash has no more patience, dj strawberry's making waves around the court and marions must have gotten chewed out for last years post season so Im sure he's upped his game.Eyes on the Prize for sure this year.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael O'Brien published on July 5, 2007 9:33 AM.

Is the junior class underrated or just lousy? was the previous entry in this blog.

Reports from the Morris Shootout is the next entry in this blog.

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