Thursday, December 26, 2013

Freakish Freshman Tucker, White Plains Off To Promising Start

When 6-foot-7 freshman Jordan Tucker first stepped foot on the sprawling campus of White Plains High, there was hype, hearsay and heavy buzz surrounding his every move.

Tucker was tasked with helping recharge the pulse of the Tigers, which teetered on the fringe of mediocrity last season. 

White Plains struggled mightily during the 2012-2013 season, a forgettable one rife with growing pains.  

The burden of righting a once prosperous ship...It seemed like amplified pressure for a callow but confident freshman.

 Tucker, whose shooting can stretch out defenses and draw taller defenders away from the post, has rapidly relished these loud expectations.

“I have big expectations, but it doesn’t really bother me,” said Tucker, who dropped 19 points (draining five 3-pointers in the first half) and snared six rebounds during the Tigers recent 62-54 win over Peekskill.

“I want this pressure…That’s when I’m at my best.”

Several programs have jumped in on the chase for the freakish freshman.

Offers from Oklahoma, Detroit, Providence, Xavier, Fordham and Manhattan are all on Tucker's table.

Tucker rattled off Arizona, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina and Villanova as programs that have expressed interest.

“Manhattan offered me over the summer, after I went to their Elite Camp,” explained Tucker.

Manhattan also offered electrifying Spring Valley guard Ricky McGill, who committed to the Jaspers during the fall.

McGill poured in 30 points in 21 minutes on Thursday, propelling Spring Valley to a thorough 95-62 bludgeoning of Bedford Academy in the Slam Dunk Challenge. 

At White Plains, longtime head coach Spencer Mayfield enforces wallpaper-tight, rim-to-rim defense with an iron fist.

White Plains, a Section I/NYS program, has churned out a number of high-profile players over the years. 

There is Cincy senior and NBA prospect Sean Kilpatrick. 

There is former Manhattan guard Devon Austin.

 There is former Bridgeport guard David Boykin, who is currently playing professionally in China. 

There is hyper-athletic and gravity-defying guard Ra’Shad James, currently with the Reno Bighorns in the NBA D-league. 

Don’t argue with history.

Now the Tigers are led by senior Mike DeMello, a cerebral 5-foot-10 point guard. The Tigers are off to a 3-0 start.

What is the issue guard/swingman Tucker and point guard DeMello create for defenses? 

You can’t let either player breathe…

 Both are two of the Section’s top shooters. Both possess range well beyond the confines of the arc. Simultaneously, both can break games open when they develop a hot hand.

DeMello scored a game-best 20 points and doled out four assists, catapulting White Plains to a 56-39 win over rugged Fox Lane during the recent Harrison tournament.

The Pace-bound guard also embodies the defensive philosophies of Mayfield, with hands quick enough to snatch a wine glass falling from a barroom ceiling.

“Having Mike with me in the backcourt, it’s less stressful on my game,” said Tucker, who has the potential to be Section 1’s most prolific scorer assuming he gains a presence in the low post.

“Mike can really pass but when I’m tired, he can get a bucket or two and get the defense focused on him. We can switch it up. If he’s being keyed on, it opens up opportunities for me.”

If Tucker’s offensive pace continues, those opportunities should continue to come his way.

Top Scott: Flying under the radar is Brooklyn Law and Tech guard Matt Scott, who is averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 6.5 dimes for the Manhattan A Jets. Scott has authored two triple
-doubles while constantly drawing double teams The uncommitted senior recently erupted for 43 points-- including 22 in the fourth quarter--during  an 84-78 loss to Scanlan on Nov.30.

Manhattan Canisius, and Long Island are all in pursuit of the wiry 6-foot-3 guard.