NBA Draft: Stuckey in the Middle

By David Scott - June 27, 2007

NEW YORK - The one-name guys were hogging all the attention a the tables set up for Wednesday's pre-draft interviews with the media. Yi had what appeared to be half of China trying to get him on video and shoving microphones in front of him. Joakim was doing what a rock star's son should do - mug for the cameras and fill notebooks. Greg, Kevin and even Spencer were all getting their own levels of love and fawning.

But Rodney Norvell Stuckey sat at a mostly empty table in the middle of the Westin's Majestic Ballroom and soaked in the whole scene. He too could probably have gone by one name. But that name would have been "Who?"

"This whole process is ridiculous," said the 6-foot-5, 205 pound combo guard, who left Eastern Washington after two seasons where he averaged 24 points each year. "I'm never going to experience nothing like this ever again. I'm just taking it in."

In due time, Stuckey will be taken in by an NBA team - the No. 15-picking Detroit Pistons and their small school GM Joe Dumars (McNeese State) are supposedly quite enamored with the Kent, Washington native - and at that point he will have the chance to go from "Who?" to "Hot Rod!," the nickname the 21-year-old has had since his early teens. He may have seemed out of place or overmatched in a room filled with household college basketball names, but the guess from seasoned NBA observers is that Stuckey will do more than just stick in the NBA.

"I've been getting (the question of whether playing at a mid major hurts his chances) ever since this process started," said Stuckey, the Big Sky's MVP in his freshman season and a two-time honorable mention all-America. "But I think I've proven myself, I'm here for a reason, right? I know I can play with the best, I've proven it throughout my workouts and I did a pretty good job at the combine.

"I'm a combo guard and I can play the one or two and that's what this draft is lacking this year and that's what teams like," he said, hitting on a key distinction between him and a bevy of the pass-only guards on the board. "They like a guy that can set the offense up or can come off screens and create for my teammates and myslf. I'm in this poisition (among the Top 15 or so players) for a reason and the feedback has been good."

It may not have been good enough to create the buzz around Stuckey that will make him a one-namer like Oden or Durant, but the confident and engaging Stuckey seems to thrive on that under-recognition.

"I always have a chip on my shoulder," said the second youngest of seven children who counts similarly spunky Dwyane Wade as his favorite NBA player. "That's the type of player you need to be. You need to have a little bit of confidence and a little cocky to you in order to be a great player. I just bring it. I know i can play with the best and I've got to show it, that's whay I have a chip on my shoulder coming form a small school, people don't know who I am and what I can do."

Soon enough that "Who?" could very well become "Stuckey." One name will be more than enough.

. . . For a wonderful take on Stuckey's upbringing in Kent, check out blended family story by Percy Allen's Seattle Times piece.

On Wednesday, Stuckey said: "Growing up wasn't so easy for me, living house to house and stuff like that. My family is important to me."

Posted by David Scott at 06:58 PM on June 27, 2007

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