School: Arkansas – Little Rock
Height/Weight: 6’5″ 210 lbs
It took a while but we finally know what Rayjon Tucker’s decision is and that is that he is hoping to hear his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft. The UALR guard started his career at Florida Gulf Coast for two years before transferring to Little Rock. In his 2018-2019 campaign, he finished with averages of over 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. In the offseason, he declared for the draft but also entered his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal to explore possible Grad Transfer destinations. Considered by some to be the top grad transfer recruit, he quickly gathered interest from the likes of UNC, Auburn, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa State before deciding to commit to Penny Hardaway’s team at Memphis. However, during this time he kept his name in the draft and ultimately decided that was the best route for him.
When you watch any film or highlight on Rayjon, it isn’t hard to realize that he is freakishly athletic. He has a solid combination of speed, size, strength, and bounce.
At 6’5″ he has solid two guard height and the physicals to match. Once labeled a guy who could bring back FGCU’s Dunk City, Tucker can fly above the rim and has had many highlight plays over his collegiate career.
Tucker excels at getting to the rim. He can beat players with both speed and quickness and has a very quick spin move that he can finish with either hand. One thing that I absolutely love about his game is that he is not only scared of contact, but he is also able to finish through it. His strength allows him to get beat up or slapped on the arm and still muster the ball up and off the glass for tough buckets.
Tucker is more than just an athlete and has shown the ability to knockdown the deep shot. His shot looks better off of C&S opportunities but he’s shown that he can pull up off the dribble as well. His vertical really allows him to shoot over defenders and create separation when shooting off the dribble. He made over 70 threes this past year at over a 40% clip. I think his shot needs a little work but he can get it off quickly which is a great trait to have going forward.
An underrated part of Tucker’s game is his ability to get boards on the defensive side of the ball. With his leaping ability and strength, he amassed 6 defensive boards per game and even had an impressive 14 total boards in an overtime matchup against Georgetown. He posted six games of double digit boards over the year. In the NBA, guards who can rebound can immediately turn and start the break to play with pace. His ability to get out and go coupled with his tenacious ability to get to the rim could be an interesting ability for him going forward.
Tucker played at FGCU and UALR which are both small schools and low majors. Those two teams play in the Atlantic Sun and the Sun Belt conferences respectively. He didn’t make a huge impact until he got to UALR which is fine with me because I know the circumstances here, but playing at a low competition level is never good to evaluate on. We only have a limited amount of games against quality competition to base him on. I will say he performed pretty well in games against Memphis, Georgetown, and Nevada this season, but that is just a small sample size. He didn’t get a combine invite which really prohibited me to see him test against other NBA/G-League caliber players.
A glaring weakness in his game is his passing ability. It is pretty much nonexistent. At times, it’s evident that he is in a score only mode and doesn’t bother to look for teammates especially in the half court setting. He’s one of the few guard prospects in this class with more turnovers than assists on the year. If he can’t gather assists in the Sun Belt, how is he going to be able to fare against the length and quickness of the NBA?
The other glaring weakness in Tucker’s game is his defense. His defensive motor is questionable. At times, he can be the most tenacious defender on the court, but most of the time he just takes on the role of spectator. There are a few instances on tape where he is one pass off the ball and his man will blow by him on a cut in the lane because he is watching the ball. His awareness needs to step up to excel at the next level and he has the physical tools to do so.
Rayjon Tucker is a fringe second round prospect who has the tools to find success at the next level, but he’s got to work on becoming a more well rounded player. If he can look to pass more and actively pay attention on both sides of the ball, then it wouldn’t shock me to see him carve out a role on a contender in the next couple of years. Some time in the G-League could do him well going forward (coaching and competition).
Overall, he is a freak athlete who can shoot the ball and get to/finish at the rim and those are special qualities to have in the modern NBA. I’d love to see him settle on the Rockets and play in D’Antoni’s offense to space out, have C&S opportunities, and to attack as well. I think he could be a good fit there or with another playoff team looking for athletic shooters.