Basketball Tigers Add Second Spring Signee

Coach Cliff Ellis and his staff have signed another player for the 2002-2003 basketball Tigers.

Tallahassee, Fla.--Auburn's second and final scholarship for the spring men's basketball signing period went to 6-8, 230-pound power forward Rodney Tucker, who visited Auburn last weekend.

"Rodney is going to be an Auburn Tiger and he is excited about it," said Tallahassee Community College coach Eddie Barnes. "He felt real good about his visit and told me that he feels like he will fit in there. It is also a plus that Auburn is close to home for him because he is from the Atlanta area."

Rodney Tucker

Tucker was recruited by UConn, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and others, his coach said. "I just got off the phone with Miami who was trying to set up a visit, but I told them that Rodney has made up his mind," Barnes told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "My wife is real excited that Rodney is going to Auburn because she is an Auburn graduate."

Barnes said that he enjoyed having Tucker on his team although it was just for one season after transferring from FSU, where he had an off the court problem, although the coach says it was nothing major. "I think it was just part of growing up, just part of the maturing process," Barnes said. "He was a great kid for us to coach and we are going to miss him. He got better and better as the season progressed and was really playing well at the end of the season."

While a student at FSU nearly two years ago, Tucker was charged with rape in an incident at his campus dorm, however, he was not found guilty on the charge and has no criminal record. However, the incident has raised questions about his recruitment, which AU Coach Cliff Ellis answered on Thursday.

"We have talked to a number of people, including his coaches and administrators at both Florida State and Tallahassee Community College. After several lengthy discussions and comprehensive background inquiries, we feel confident that Rodney will be a good addition to our program and Auburn University. He is a strong student, who will graduate from Tallahassee Community College in June. Rodney has dedicated himself to succeeding in both the classroom and on the court and we're looking forward to having him join our program."

Earlier this spring, the Tigers signed juco All-American point guard Chris Lollar from Johnson County Community College in Kansas. Auburn had just two scholarships available for the spring signing period.

Tucker played for Tallahassee Community College, the same school where Auburn women's basketball signee Dayana Lorza played the past two seasons. Tucker averaged 14.4 points and 6.89 rebounds per game as a sophomore. He made 61.4 percent of his field goals and 61 percent of his foul shots. He blocked 31 shots, had 23 steals and committed 32 turnovers in 27 games.

He has two seasons of eligibility at the Division I level two seasons after originally signing with and attending Florida State. Tucker is scheduled to graduate from TCC in June. He redshirted with the Seminoles as a true freshman and played the following year. Barnes said the original plan was for Tucker to return to Florida State, however, the Seminoles decided they needed to sign a guard for his slot.

Tucker is from Stone Mountain, Ga., High School, where he was a heavily recruited prospect and a high school senior before choosing the Seminoles. He averaged 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds as a high school senior with four blocks and four steals per game while hitting 58 percent of his shots. He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior at Stone Mountain.

"Rodney adds beef to our lineup and is a power player," Ellis said. "He has great hands, is a scorer, goes and gets rebounds and is going to give us a dimension inside with the fact that he can score and give us beef. Having played in the ACC gives him some quality experience. He has played a year at this level.

Signee Lollar, a 6-0, 190 guard, is a native of Birmingham, where he played high school basketball on a state championship team at John Carroll. He also played on the Division II junior college national champion his freshman season at Johnson County in Overland Park, Kan., where he was named a first team All-American. As a sophomore, Lollar averaged 13.4 points and 6.3 assists per contest. He shot 47.8 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three-point range and 72.3 percent at the foul line. He will leave the school with Johnson County records for most assists in a game, season and career. As a freshman, he averaged 10.7 points and 8.6 assists per game.

"Chris fills our need at the point guard position," Ellis said. "He is a Birmingham native who understands Auburn, and I like the fact that he has always followed the Auburn program. He was the NJCAA Division II National Player of the Year as a freshman. He was a standout in that program."

The Tigers are also expected to add a 5-11 walk-on point guard, Roscoe Biggers, who is originally from New York City. He played at Mt. Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina this past season. In the early signing period, the Tigers picked up a pair of players at another North Carolina prep school--6-5 Australian shooting guard Steve Leven and 6-9 forward Terry Licorish from Toronto, Canada who attend Laurinburg Institute.


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