Nate Rucker is a power forward who will be transferring to Kennesaw State within the next two weeks and redshirt the final semester of this basketball season. He will begin his KSU playing career in the fall of 2013 and will have two full years of eligibility. Rucker played his freshman season at Division I Northern Illinois, and later transferred (more on that below), to attend Southwest Tennessee Community College for his sophomore campaign.
This is a Northern Illinois fan’s take on Rucker from March of 2011,
Guy and Gals I’m hoping Nate does not transfer because he is the future of NIU. We are hearing rumors here about him coming back to Memphis and we really dont need this after our coach was just fired. He is one of the best freshmen we have had in years. What most people dont know is that Nate started this year at center after our center bolted to another school. I thought no way a kid 6″6 couple play center at the D1 lever but he did and against 7′ footers. Next year we are hoping to he will be at his true spot PF. He had a few double doubles this year and remember we had a guy in the name of Xavier Silas that took all the shots, so for Nate to do what he did was just great for a freshman. The kid is huge in muscle and can jump out of the gym. The team will be built around him for the next 3 year so I think it would not be smart for him to leave. If he does all I can say is good luck Nate. Good Luck Tigers in the tournament. This is from a NIU Alum.
Rucker’s biggest Issue this year was we had one of the worst coaches in the history of NIU. He should have been a double double guy but Patton was only concerned about Xavier Silas and his record and it cost him his job. We had a freshman that dominated on the block and all we did was jack up jumpshots. In the second half of the season we played man to man 100% and it was at the expense of Nates fouls. We did not double and that left him one on one with the 6″10 and 7 footers. Just dumb. Our new coach will turn Nate into a star if he stays. Its his team now. I been one of his biggest fans.
Here’s another Northern Illinois fan’s take from March of 2011,
For those who mentioned him as a center, he’s certainly a PF.. and can guard the more athletic players out on the wing if need be. He can jump out of the gym, good rebounder, blocks shots, plays hard on defense, decent hands for a kid his size. Not sure how we ever got him in the first place to be honest.
He only played center here because our starting center left the program right before the season started, so we couldn’t recruit anyone else and he was the best option left. He was an undersized, true freshman and held his own playing out of position. He’ll be without a doubt the best player at NIU the next three years if he stays, would be a huge loss for us.
Tell everybody a little about yourself
Well I’m 6’5” or 6’6” and weigh 225 pounds. I’ve played center for most of my life but I also play power forward. I’m from southwest Memphis Tennessee. I’d like to major in computer science or something technology related. I’m an average kid just trying to make it.
Where’d you play your high school ball?
My first year I went to a school called Southside High School, but enrollment was low and many people had bad grades so they closed it down, and after that I went to Melrose High School. I played there for three years, and every year I got better as a player. My senior year my team won a state championship.
Who recruited you out of high school?
Pretty much every school in Tennessee including Memphis, Tennessee, UT Martin, plus Arkansas and Marquette.
Which of the schools had solid offers?
Basically every school in Tennessee, UTEP and Mississippi State.
Who were your biggest influences growing up?
My mother, father and sister.
Why did you choose Northern Illinois University and why did you transfer after your freshman year?
I had a good relationship with the coaches over there, because they were coaching at Colorado when my sister played there, so I already had a relationship with them. One of the coaches, he’s from Memphis and he was one of the only people from the south and I just felt real comfortable with him. They got a new coaching staff, so I decided to have a new start.
Do you think you could have done more at NIU if they had you playing power forward as opposed to center?
Yeah. We had a center but he had quit a couple days before the first practice. It was a last minute thing, so I had to play center. Guys were much bigger than me but I was holding my own.
I saw some clips of you taking it to Akron’s 7-foot shot-blocker Zeke Marshall.
It was nothing, it was just a walk in the park.
When did you first hear from KSU?
The beginning of the summer.
Why did you choose to come to Kennesaw State?
I feel it was a great fit for me. The campus was immaculate compared to Northern Illinois’ and the other schools I’ve seen. I saw the team practicing and I saw where they could use improvement and I feel I can be the one to do that.
What can you bring to the table next year?
Intensity, toughness and the will to win. I don’t like losing.
What are the strengths to your game?
My strengths are playing with my back to the basket, rebounding, defense. Just everywhere basically.
What are you trying to improve on for next year?
My ball handling and my shot. I always played center so I never really got to shoot the ball. The (Kennesaw) coaches said they are bringing me in to be me, and I feel I can bring more to the table than just being a back to the basket guy.
So you’re going to be playing power forward next to Willy Kouassi next year, correct?
Yes sir. I talk to Willy almost every day, he’s excited.
What have you been doing these past few months until you start at KSU?
Usually I go to my junior college and play some pick-up games with them, or I go up to my old high school and workout.
Thanks for doing the interview and I hope everything goes well this coming semester
Thanks a lot.
Some more highlights
NIU vs. Bradley
Southwest vs. Jackson St.
High School #1 (2009)
High School #2
High School #3
High School #4