One of the biggest questions for Butler basketball right now is what the future holds for junior forward Jordan Tucker and his currently held scholarship.
The 6’7″, 210 pound shooter has already declared his intent to leave early for the NBA Draft and test the professional pre-draft waters–but at least publicly hasn’t fully closed the door on returning to Butler for a final season.
As a ‘super sixth-man’ for the Bulldogs last season, the former Duke transfer averaged 8.9 ppg. and 3.8 rpg.–shooting .357 from 3 point range, in 22.7 mpg during 30 games (5 starts).
The would-be senior Tucker was projected to be the starter at small forward in a Bulldogs’ 5-man squad that otherwise has four expected upperclassmen as starters (with South Carolina grad transfer guard Jair Bolden’s recent addition at shooting guard).
The smooth shooting would-be senior forward was potentially expected to be the Bulldogs’ leading scorer next season–if he could improve his ability to both drive and finish at the rim (and hone further consistency on his outside shot).
As of now, Tucker has until June 3rd to withdraw his name from NBA consideration and retain his collegiate eligibility–as the NBA Draft is currently scheduled for June 25th (although that remains subject to change with the ongoing pandemic).
Tucker could also return to school if he goes undrafted and participates in the NBA Draft Combine–the latter which may be unlikely.
The Bulldogs theoretically could’ve rescinded Tucker’s scholarship as soon as he declared his intention to leave for the NBA Draft early and formally entered the professional pre-draft evaluation process.
Now Butler can either play the waiting game on Tucker with his held scholarship or rescind it entirely–if an immediate impact transfer is interested in playing for Butler next season (or even a sit-out transfer for that matter).
Jeff Goodman of Goodman Hoops recently indicated that Butler is still interested in George Mason grad transfer guard Justin Kier, who has the size (6’4″, 197 pounds) to potentially start at small forward in the Big East–as Tucker’s possible replacement.
If let’s say Kier or another immediate impact transfer at small forward informs Butler that Hinkle Fieldhouse is his next desired destination, does Bulldogs head coach LaVall Jordan still play the waiting game here for Tucker? (And risk losing out on an impact transfer who can help the team).
Some of it could depend on if the Butler coaching staff already knows that Tucker is all but gone out the door–regardless of whether he gets drafted or not in June.
At that point, there’s no point in waiting around on what’s a mere formality when Butler already knows the future outcome of Tucker’s basketball fate.
Complicating matters is that Butler doesn’t have a proven in-house candidate for Tucker as it stands at starting small forward.
Incoming highly touted freshman Scooby Johnson (6’6″, 210 pounds)–who won “Mr. Michigan Basketball” and is very polished for his young age with an all-around game would be the projected frontrunner as Tucker’s replacement, but a potential darkhorse would be redshirt sophomore Markeese Hastings (6’7″, 200 pounds)–who played in limited action this past season as a freshman coming off hip surgery.
If Tucker is actually interested in returning to Butler, the Bulldogs may not want to end his tenure prematurely by rescinding his scholarship. After all, the team could use his outside shooting (and overall scoring), length, and experience in their starting lineup next season–on what should be a very veteran starting five.
By all accounts, the Bulldogs would want to fully honor Tucker’s currently held scholarship–as long as it has good reason to do so.
It’s an interesting conundrum for the Butler Bulldogs and their coaching staff–and one that hopefully sees a resolution for the program relatively soon.