CONCORD – It’s turning out to be one heck of a summer for basketball players with Cabarrus County ties.
Rayjon Tucker, a former member of the Northwest Cabarrus boys basketball squad, signed as an undrafted free agent to play with the Milwaukee Bucks’ NBA Summer League team.
According to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Tucker signed a partially guaranteed contract, which means he’ll be in the Bucks’ training camp after summer league but still has to work to make the roster.
Tucker and the Bucks this week will be in the Las Vegas Summer League, which will include two other Cabarrus County products: former Cox Mill star Matt Morgan (Toronto Raptors) and ex-cfa Academy standout Codi Miller-McIntyre (Los Angeles Lakers).
Tucker played his freshman season on a Northwest Cabarrus team led by current Los Angeles Dodgers star Corey Seager. Tucker later transferred to Charlotte’s Northside Christian Academy, from which he graduated in 2015 as a McDonald’s All-American Game nominee.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Tucker was known as a high-flying player in high school. He drew national attention during the American Family Insurance dunk contest in Indiana that year, when he leaped over the head of his mother, Tuwanna McNeely-Tucker, who owns a dance studio in Concord.
After high school, Tucker signed with Florida Gulf Coast University, where he spent two seasons and led the team by shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range. He then transferred to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, sitting out a season because of NCAA rules but later proving he definitely was worth the wait.
As a redshirt junior at Little Rock, Tucker averaged 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in his only season on campus. He made 41 percent of his 3-pointers and was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference second team, while the National Association of Basketball Coaches also placed him on its All-District 24 second team.
Tucker had such a strong season at UALR, where he was coached by former NBA guard Darrell Walker, that he declared for the NBA draft.
“He averaged 20 points and seven rebounds without me ever really running a play for him,” Walker told the Democrat Gazette. “Obviously, he could score the basketball. There's some things he still needs to work on, but physically he was an NBA athlete already before I got to taking the job.”
Despite announcing his NBA draft intentions, Tucker also entered his name in the NCAA’s transfer portal to explore opportunities at larger schools as a graduate transfer. He received interest from several schools, including top-flight programs North Carolina, Kansas, Auburn, Memphis, West Virginia and Iowa State.
Tucker ultimately committed to the Penny Hardaway-coached Memphis Tigers. At the same time, though, Tucker kept his draft options open and decided to bypass Memphis in order to pursue his NBA dreams as a projected second-round pick.
While he wasn’t chosen in the draft, Tucker and the Bucks reached an agreement the following day.
The Bucks’ summer league roster also includes former University of North Carolina standout Luke Maye, who is from Huntersville.
Milwaukee opens play in the Las Vegas summer league against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday at 2:30 p.m.