Former Syracuse target Jordan Tucker decided to start 2018 with a bang by leaving the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils just 14 games into his freshman season. Tucker knew when he committed to Coach K that he wouldn’t be a major part of the rotation, but he didn’t expect to play in just two games through the Blue Devils’ non-conference schedule. Tucker played a combined total of 14 minutes in his 14 games in uniform, six in the opener against Elon and eight against St. Francis almost a month ago. He took four shots, making two for a total of six points (he also made one of two free throws).
If you don’t remember, Tucker to Syracuse was a safe bet before Duke got involved. Syracuse had been at the top of Tucker’s list since back in his freshman year, and he had narrowed his list to SU and Georgia Tech before Coach K called.
Tucker was at the bottom of Duke’s 2017 recruiting class, but if he had chosen SU he would have been the Orange’s top commit. He broke Orange Nation’s heart by choosing the Blue Devils over the summer, but after lasting just a semester in Durham it’s easy to wonder what he would be doing if he had been at Syracuse from the start.
It’s hard to judge Tucker’s ability at the college level with so little time on the floor, so we have to rely on what he had during his prep days. Orange Fizz took a look at Tucker’s game way back in his freshman year of high school, and he’s fine-tuned his strengths since that time. His shooting and length are the most attractive parts of his game. In his senior year, he shot around six per game from behind the arc. At 6-7, he had the size to fit in perfectly in the bigger-than-ever 2-3 zone.
Tucker would have gotten a fair shot at playing time at Syracuse, too. If there’s one thing the SU roster needs, it’s a shooter. Tyus Battle is the Orange’s best three-point shooter at 34 percent, and Frank Howard is the only other player above 30 percent. If SU had another player who could just sit on the wing, catch and shoot like Tucker, it could take the offense to another level. There’s no way to know if Tucker would catch onto the 2-3 zone or find a way into Jim Boeheim’s doghouse, but he would have at least gotten a shot to work his way into the rotation, something he didn’t get at Duke. With the Orange running just six deep at the moment and Jim Boeheim claiming he wants to use three guards more often, another capable set of legs is in high demand.
Jordan Tucker chose Duke over Syracuse this summer, and now he’s looking at a change of scenery and a year without seeing the court. If he had chosen the Orange, he could be part of a rotation which has all of its major players seeing at least 20 minutes per game. There’s no way to predict how his first semester would have turned out at SU (ask Howard Washington how many minutes he would like to have), but it’s safe to say it would have been better than what he got at Duke.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson