Last week a versatile junior college forward from Florida made an official visit to see Louisiana's…
Rucker Visits Cajuns
Rod Rucker starred for the past two seasons at multiple positions for Northwest Florida State College and has two years of eligibility left. JucoJunction.com rates the 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard/forward as the nation's No. 10 recruit among Class of 2012 junior college prospects.
As a freshman Rucker played point guard and earned first-team all-league honors last season in the competitive Panhandle Conference after averaging 10.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Over the summer he participated in Jerry Mullen's Top 100 JUCO Camp, an invitation-only showcase in St. Louis.
This season Rucker moved to the post for first-year coach Steve Forbes and was first-team all-conference again. He was the top rebounder (9.9 per game) and second-leading scorer (12.5 ppg) for a 32-2 team that was ranked second in the country and the runner-up in the NJCAA Division I national tournament.
Rucker, who had 13 double-doubles and shot 51 percent from the floor, also made the NJCAA all-tournament team after averaging 12.5 points and 10 rebounds in four games. He had 16 points and 12 rebounds against Navarro in the opening round and 16 points and 14 rebounds in a loss to South Plains College in the national title game.
"He's a tough dude and a great all-around player who can do a lot of things," Forbes said. "In his freshman year he played the point, and this year played the 3, 4 and 5 for us. He's an outstanding rebounder who can shoot a high percentage inside and score around the basket, is a very good passer and can rebound and lead the break. He has a really good body, really long arms and is a physical specimen."
Forbes – a former assistant at Tennessee, Texas A&M, Idaho, Louisiana Tech and Illinois State – also marveled at Rucker's leadership skills.
"He was the backbone of a team that went 32-2 and played in the national championship game," Forbes said. "At this level some guys have enough trouble leading themselves, but he's one of those rare guys who can lead himself and others on and off the court in junior college."
Forbes, who has close ties to Cajuns head coach Bob Marlin and assistant Nikita Johnson, added that Rucker is a natural-born rebounder.
"I coached Paul Millsap at Louisiana Tech, and he could rebound in high school, college and the NBA," Forbes said. "I'm not saying Rod is Paul Millsap, but Rod just knows how to rebound."
Rucker visited Loyola University-Chicago in February and is scheduled to visit Western Kentucky and Tennessee Tech next week and UAB in two weeks. The NCAA's spring signing period is April 11 to May 16.
According to Forbes, Rucker is looking for a few particular things at his next school.
"He wants to go somewhere he can have an opportunity to play and an opportunity to win," Forbes said. "He wants a place where he can find the right degree program and graduate and have a good relationship with the head coach. I think all of those things are important to him."
Before going to junior college, Rucker was a prep star at Class 3A Elbert County High in Elberton, Ga., and was first-team all-state in each of his final two seasons. He led the state of Georgia in rebounding as a junior at 17 per game. His legend grew during a senior season in which he averaged 21.9 points and 16.9 rebounds and shattered a backboard in a game.
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia State and Minnesota scouted him during his high school days, but it now appears that Rucker will complete his college career at the mid-major level.
"He could be a very productive player in that league, and I think that's why he's looking at schools there," Forbes said of the Sun Belt Conference. "I think it's important for JUCO guys to play for guys who have coached JUCO players before, and coach Marlin has done that."
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