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Bittersweet journey lands Chad Tucker in Hall of Fame

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chad Tucker as a Butler Bulldog.
For a player his father once called "the Rodney Dangerfield of Indiana basketball," Chad Tucker of Cloverdale certainly has been getting his share of respect lately.

In February 2007, Tucker was named to the Butler University Athletic Hall of Fame, and a few months later he was honored as a member of the state's 2007 Silver Anniversary Team, selected by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

But the biggest honor yet for the late Cloverdale High School basketball star came Tuesday when Tucker was included in the 2013 Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction class.

"It's been a bittersweet journey with highs and lows," his father, legendary Cloverdale basketball coach Al Tucker, told the Banner Graphic Tuesday.

"We're very humbled, very proud and very grateful," added Tucker, who just celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary with wife Joan. "We hope we can share this with the entire basketball community of Indiana, particularly Cloverdale and Putnam County."

Chad Tucker, a 6-foot-8 forward, earned Indiana All-Star status with the Cloverdale Clovers when he graduated in 1983. With 1,338 points at CHS, he stands as the school's third-leading scorer of all time, behind only Rick Ford (1968) and Chase Haltom (2006).

But it was at Butler that Tucker truly left his mark, averaging 20.9 points per game in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse and 18.9 points on the road during a 117-game Bulldog career.

And despite the phenomenal recent success of the Butler basketball program and its players, Tucker remains the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,321 career points as a Bulldog.

"I think if you'd go up to people on the street and ask, 'Who is Butler's all-time leading scorer?', his name wouldn't come up," his dad offered.

"Butler basketball is all about Bobby Plump and Billy Shepherd and Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard, as it should be."

But that can't diminish the contributions Tucker, a 1988 Butler grad, made in far fewer games than the Bulldogs routinely play now. A three-time Butler Most Valuable Player, he was thrice a first-team all-conference performer and a 1985 honorable mention All-American.

Tucker, who passed away in 1996, is also Butler's career field goal leader at 912 and continues to rank in the school's top 10 in rebounding, field-goal shooting and free-throw shooting. He produced 108 double-figure scoring nights, including 59 games of 20 or more points.

But he almost never even went to Butler.

As a CHS junior, his only scholarship offer was from Murray State, but the coach later rescinded it. Tucker longed to play for Indiana State, where his father had gone to school, but Murray State coach Ron Greene moved to Terre Haute at the most most inopportune time, and that door was shut.

"I call him 'the Rodney Dangerfield of Indiana basketball,'" Al Tucker said. "Nobody from Indiana schools thought he could play for them."

But boy, did he ever prove them wrong, even beating ISU a number of times in his career as a little extra payback.

"He took the opportunity and ran with it," his father praised, "and the rest is history."

He credits then-DePauw University coach Mike Steele turning the Butler basketball staff on to the skills of Chad Tucker.

While he never made the NBA, he had a tryout with the Charlotte Hornets and was invited to try out for the Indiana Pacers. However, Tucker had already made a commitment to go overseas, where he played seven pro seasons in a variety of places.

"Probably his best year was in Australia (1991) when he played in the No. 1 league there," his father recalled.

"It's been a bittersweet journey all right," he added, noting that he knew in advance of the Hall of Fame selection and joyously shared the news with the immediate Tucker family over Thanksgiving.

"I am proud of Chad's accomplishments throughout his basketball career," said brother Brad Tucker, who has followed his father's footsteps into the Greencastle office of Tucker State Farm Insurance.

"Chad touched many people's lives throughout his career," his brother added. "The honor is also a testament to the great teammates, coaches, teachers and friends from the Cloverdale community, Putnam County and the Butler University family that impacted Chad throughout his life."

The rest of the 2013 Hall of Fame induction class is:

LaVern Benson, Crispus Attucks (1958): Played in consecutive state title games, as a sophomore for the 1956 champs and as a junior on the runner-up.

Phil Dawkins, East Chicago Washington (1960): Captained the 1960 state champs and scored a game-high 21 points in the title victory over Muncie Central.

Gene Demaree, New Marion (1961): Scored 1,361 points and led school to its first sectional title as a senior.

Chuck Franz, Clarksville (1979): Scored 51 points in a sectional championship win over New Albany in 1979. Tied or broke 24 school records.

Scott Haffner, Noblesville (1984): Averaged 28 points as a senior, leading Noblesville to an undefeated regular season.

Bob Heady, Frankton (1960): Scored more than 1,100 points at Franklin before winning 383 games as a coach with state finals appearances at Shenandoah (1981) and Carmel (1993).

James Master, Harding (1980): Won Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1980 and scored a Fort Wayne city record 1,592 career points.

Carl Meditch, Indianapolis Tech (1955): Outscored Oscar Robertson and Willie Merriweather as a senior in 1955 to lead city and North Central Conference in scoring.

Alan Nass, Huntingburg (1959): Indiana All-Star who led Huntingburg to a 40-9 record his final two seasons before captaining Georgia Tech.

Bill "Fig" Newton, Rockville (1968): Averaged 23 points and 19 rebounds as a senior. He later played for the Indiana Pacers' 1973 ABA champions.

Dan Palombizio, Michigan City Rogers (1981): Mr. Basketball in 1981 who graduated as state's ninth-leading scorer with 2,092 career points.

Dick Piper, Chester Township (1948): Led his team to undefeated regular season and school's only regional title in 1948.

Robert Rousey, Anderson (1949): Leading scorer in the North Central Conference. Later played at Kansas State.

Meanwhile, Indiana natives David Anspaugh and Angelo Pizzo are the 2013 winners of the St. Vincent Health Silver Medal Award, which recognizes contributions to Indiana high school basketball other than as a player or coach.

Pizzo was the screenwriter and producer on the Oscar-nominated film "Hoosiers," while Anspaugh served as the director.

Also, John Forest Crane of Wingate in Montgomery County was named the Centennial Award winner, which salutes contributions to the high school game more than 100 years ago. Crane scored the game-winning baskets in both the 1913 state finals game against Rochester and in the overtime championship game against South Bend

The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction banquet will be Wednesday, March 20 with a reception at the Hall of Fame museum in New Castle that afternoon and a banquet that evening at Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets will be made available in early 2013. Call 765-529-1891 or visit www.hoopshall.com for more information.

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Watching Putnam County basketball for years, I have a hard time thinking there was anyone better than Chad Tucker. Lots of good players... a few great ones... but he was the real deal. His range was staggering and he moved really well with and without the ball.

He and his family deserve this recognition and the whole county should be proud.

-- Posted by conffool on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:35 AM

Chad was an all around great guy as well as being a fantastic ball player.

-- Posted by cloverman on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 7:23 AM

Do you know that Bob Heady now lives in Putnam County.

-- Posted by sierrabloom on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 9:54 AM

Congrats to my friend Chad and his family. Deserving honor.

-- Posted by kbmom on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 10:34 AM

Completely agree, conffool! My earliest GHS basketball memories are of Mike Cooper (whatever happened to him?), but I definitely remember Chad Tucker as the star of the day.

-- Posted by hometown memories on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 11:59 AM

Chad was not only a great basketball player, but also a fine young man. My congrats and love to Al, Joan, and the entire Tucker family:-)

-- Posted by vwhitaker11 on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:54 PM

I grew up and graduated with Chad. What great memories come to mind of those good ole' basketball days. Thanks and congratulations to Chad and his wonderful family.

-- Posted by bsandy on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 1:10 PM

Proud to be a 1960 Grad. of CHS. I missed the years of Chad's Cloverdale and Butler experiences, but know he was well liked and admired. I'm so pleased that he is in the Indiana Hall of Fame, as he should be. Love to Mom and Dad Tucker.

-- Posted by geojones1942 on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 11:41 AM

I would sure like to give Mike Steele credit but i won't lol We were in Broad Ripple and I had gone and seen Chad in Evansville.My Dad said do you think he can play here (Butler) I said yes he can! He is a coaches son and understands the game like I did as a coaches son! That was the end of the discussion!I never saw a family follow their kid like the Tucker's. They followed us everywhere! What a great family!

-- Posted by RICK SEXSON on Mon, Feb 4, 2013, at 6:42 PM

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