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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Bryson Tucker cites culture, coaching staff for Indiana men’s basketball commitment

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Bryson Tucker’s relationship with Indiana men’s basketball extends far beyond the fever dream that saw him go from first official visit to Hoosiers commit in just three days. 

Indiana was among the first schools to extend an offer to Tucker, with the formal invitation coming October 12, 2021, when the 6-foot-6 wing was still a high school sophomore. 

But Tucker didn’t get around to visiting Bloomington until recently, arriving March 26 following a late push from Indiana head coach Mike Woodson and staff. 

Tucker was expected to join the NBA G League Ignite, an alternative to college basketball, but Ignite will be discontinued after this season, leaving Tucker looking for a new home. 

Indiana, which had seven roster spots to fill and no 2024 commits, needed bodies. Tucker needed an opportunity. They found each other — and March 28, Tucker announced his commitment to the Hoosiers. 

“When I went there, the culture and everything that I witnessed, I really liked it,” Tucker said Monday in a press conference before the McDonald’s All-American Game on Tuesday. “The coaching staff is like a pro coaching staff. So, I know they know where I'm trying to get to, and they can help me get there.” 

Tucker, a Baltimore native, spent his junior year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, before transferring to Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He had several strong performances as a senior, headlined by a 27-point outburst in the championship to win the Beach Ball Classic MVP. 

The son of 6-foot-10 center Byron Tucker, who starred at George Mason University from 1989-1992, the younger Tucker is rated as a 5-star recruit by ESPN, On3 and Rivals. 

Apart from his familial pedigree and lofty ranking, Tucker feels he’ll bring much more to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall next season — but he’s focused on elevating the Hoosiers to another level as much as he is his own career. 

“A hard worker, three level scorer, defensive guy,” Tucker said. “I'm just here to help the program get better. That's it really.” 

Indiana’s identity under Woodson has been playing inside-out offensively while holding strong defensively. This past season, the Hoosiers’ paint play remained stout, but their perimeter game lacked. 

Out of 351 Division 1 men’s basketball teams, Indiana ranked No. 341 in 3-pointers made per game with five, the lowest among all Power Five schools. 

Tucker isn’t touted as the same caliber of shooter the Hoosiers lost when fellow 5-star recruit Liam McNeeley decommitted March 7, but his flexibility defensively is a major asset.

Indiana’s perimeter defense ranked No. 228 in the country, allowing opponents to hit 34.3% of their shots from distance. Tucker, who has a 6-foot-9 wingspan and is lauded for his athleticism, could help change that. 

Tucker believes he’ll bring Indiana an ingredient that others don’t have in their kitchen. 

“Versatility on the defensive end, being able to guard like one through four,” Tucker said. “I think a lot of schools need that — a lot of schools need dudes that can just switch off here and there. So, it's just easier for defense. It lets you save energy as well.” 

Indiana is nearly three weeks removed from the conclusion of its 2023-24 season, which saw a promising five-game winning streak at the end of the campaign but ultimately ended with a 19-14 record and no postseason appearance. 

Sophomore center Kel’el Ware, who led the Hoosiers with 15.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, announced March 26 he’s entering the 2024 NBA Draft. Three others — sophomore guard CJ Gunn, sophomore forward Kaleb Banks and junior forward Payton Sparks — entered the transfer portal. 

Still, Woodson has a foundation built for next season. 

It starts with senior guards Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal and is spearheaded by the return of sophomore forward Malik Reneau and freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako, who were the Hoosiers’ No. 2 and No. 3 leading scorers this past season, respectively. 

Tucker adds an athletic, versatile player who can make an impact on both ends, but Woodson still has six roster spots to fill. 

And while the Hoosiers’ final squad is far from complete, a vision is forming — and Tucker, who takes center stage in the McDonald’s All-American Game at 8 p.m., Tuesday, believes he can help Indiana put its substandard season firmly in the rearview mirror when he arrives on campus. 

“I think we can do a lot,” Tucker said. “Also getting in some transfers, but the coaching there, I feel once he has the bodies, it’s definitely going to turn around quickly.” 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball offseason. 

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