The Owl Howl is hearing a rumor that power forward Nate Rucker will transfer to Kennesaw State University. Rucker is a 6’6” 245 pound forward out of the Memphis Tennessee area.
He was a 2010 graduate of Melrose High School in Memphis, where he averaged 8.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game as a senior and led his team to their first state championship since 1983.
He was also recruited out of high school by Memphis, East Tennessee St., Middle Tennessee St., Tennessee St. and Tennessee Tech.
As a freshman at Northern Illinois University, Rucker started 29 of 30 games and averaged over seven points and four rebounds while shooting 54% from the field. He posted career highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds (twice).
Following his freshman season, Rucker transferred to Southwest Tennessee Community College close to his home in Memphis where he averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 53% shooting.
Rucker would likely have the option of transferring to Kennesaw State for the Spring semester where he would become the 13th and final scholarship player for the current year. It would make most sense to redshirt him, give him almost an entire year to practice with the team and then have him eligible for two years starting in 2013-14.
The Owls have at least two open scholarships remaining for next season.
Credit Ryan Wood of HuskieWire.com for much of the information and quotes used to write the next two sections, and we encourage Owls fans to read his articles on Rucker which can be found HERE and HERE.
Rucker played his freshman season for Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference which is home to teams such as the Ohio Bobcats and the Kent State Golden Flashes. He was a top performer for NIU as a true freshman and was considered their top returning player as a sophomore.
The sophomore year in DeKalb Illinois never came to be as the long 500+ mile drive for his family to attend his home games was too much. A new coaching regime also contributed to his departure as Northern Illinois fired assistant coach Will Smith who was heavily involved in his recruitment. “If Will Smith was still in DeKalb, Nate would still be in DeKalb,” Rucker’s father told Wood in August of 2011.
He then transferred to Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis for his sophomore season where he was a standout performer once again and averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds in an indeterminate amount of minutes.
The proverbial arrow is pointing up in regards to Nate Rucker for a number of reasons.
1. From Wood’s August 2011 article: “Rucker’s father also said his son had groin surgery Monday in Milwaukee. He said the injury was similar to a sports hernia, and it was a consistent issue throughout Rucker’s freshman season. Rucker’s father said the surgery was a success, and it will take his son six weeks before he can go full speed. He will be limited to free throws for the next two weeks.
He played with it most of the year on it,” Rucker’s father said. “We thought it was just a situation where after the season was over we could rest on it … . It was a constant thing battling with the injury, and it just kept going. (NIU coach) Mark (Montgomery) kept saying he kept noticing Nate was in excruciating pain a couple minutes after he would do any workouts.””
“Rucker also played his entire freshman season on a right ankle that wasn’t healed from a broken bone suffered as a high school senior.”
2. Also from Wood:“Rucker was tired of playing out of position. A 6-foot-6 freshman isn’t often asked to play center for a Division I team. And without a true center entering the program, Rucker would be in the same situation this winter.”
3. Rucker played 10 games at NIU in which he played 25 minutes or more. In those games he averaged 28 minutes, 10 points and 6 rebounds. Injuries and foul trouble from playing as an undersized center likely limited his minutes throughout the year.
4. Two full years (including the likely redshirt season in 2012-13) since his stint at NIU will undoubtedly make him a better player, just because of natural progression. Likely being able to practice with the Owls beginning in January rather than May is a nice boost for him and the team’s future chemistry.
A combination of all of the above should spell success for Nate Rucker at Kennesaw State. He would likely start next year and play beside fellow redshirt Willy Kouassi which would give the Owls one of the strongest front courts in the Atlantic Sun conference.
Here are the most recent highlights from January
From his freshman year at NIU in January of 2011, he takes 7 foot shot-blocker Zeke Marshall to school.
Some more highlights