Tucker said this on Twitter: “I spent a long time thinking about this college decision. It feels like the best decision and fit for me. I know people may not agree with my decision, but I’m just a kid from White Plains, N.Y., following his dreams.”
He had said earlier that he didn’t mind being Duke’s second choice because he knew what he was capable of which is a pretty cool attitude and one we’re guessing Coach K will appreciate. And we’ll say this too: he has an excellent chance of having a better college career than Kevin Knox.
That would be true if Knox had chose Duke and Tucker had chosen Syracuse.
Simply because he’s likely to stay longer.
Barring injury or a surprise in Kentucky’s rotation, Knox will have a better freshman year - possibly much better - but like most freshman, including Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Frank Jackson and Kentucky’s Malik Monk this past season - it’s also likely to be uneven.
Tucker will likely be around at least 2-3 years and has a chance to develop into a much more reliable player.
We’re not suggesting that he’s going to be better than Knox although that’s possible, or that he’s going to be a better NBA player, just that time is on his side in college.
Along with Jordan Goldwire, Duke appears to have added some high character guys to the roster. It sometimes takes awhile for that to show up on the court, but we saw this in 2010 when guys like Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek matured into outstanding leaders by the time they were seniors.
We can distill this down to two moments which we’ll never forget.
First Thomas: during his junior year Duke was getting killed at Clemson, ultimately losing 74-47.
Thomas really stepped up as a leader during that game, urging his team to keep fighting. It was a really dispiriting loss but Thomas, on a personal level, refused to be defeated. It really leaped off the screen. A lot of guys had accepted losing but not Thomas. Remember at that point he was still an emerging player. That team belonged to Nolan Smith, Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer.
And secondly, Zoubek’s moment.
When he fouled out against Baylor in the 2010 NCAA tournament, he was replaced by a still-erratic Miles Plumlee.
We’ll never forget watching him leave the court and putting a finger in Plumlee’s face. We don’t know exactly what he said, but we imagine what he said was somewhere between “don’t you screw this up, Plumlee!” to “keep your head in the game!” The ferocity was absolutely startling and, we believe, a key reason Duke won that game.
Plumlee kept his eyes down and nodded. That was all he needed to do: the big dog laid down the law and Miles complied, played very well, and Duke moved on to the Final Four and eventually the national championship.
Tucker and Goldwire may eventually have that sort of influence over their teams at Duke. We’re excited to have them both.