Cliff Tucker is a 27 year old 198cm forward from El Paso, Texas playing his fourth professional season and first with rent4office Nuernberg (Germany-ProA). He started the season with Sopron KC (Hungary-A Division). He played at Maryland(NCAA) from 2007-2011 playing a total of 131 games and as a senior played 33 games: 9.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 67.2%. In 2012-2013, he started his professional career with the Springfield Armor (D-League): 13 games: 6.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 33.3%,. In the 2013-2014 season he played with Huracanes de Tampico (Mexico-LNBP playing 42 games: 16.9ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.0apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 48.9%, 3FGP: 29.3%, FT: 72.8%. He also played with Toros de Aragua (Venezuela-LPB): 7 games: 9.6ppg, 4.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 24.0%, FT: 16.7%. He played for athird team that season with Indios de San Francisco (Dominican Republic-LNB) playing 7 games: 10.7ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.1apg. Last season he remained with Huracanes de Tampico (Mexico-LNBP) playing 44 games: 15.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 3.1apg, Steals-2(1.7spg), FGP: 54.2%, 3PT: 38.1%, FT: 72.7%. He also played with Academia de la Montana Alavaro Contreras (Colombia-Liga Direct TV) Liga DirecTV-1: 4 games: 20.8ppg, 4.8rpg, 5.5apg, 1.8spg. He recently spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Cliff thanks for talking to German Hoops A tough 68-64 loss on the weekend against Science City Jena. It was a dog fight at the end. What was key at the end that Rent4Office were unable to pull out the win?
The key in the end of the game was that we were not able to execute our offense in the end of game and we made some key turnovers and fouls in the end of game that caused us to lose
Despite the loss, the team is 12-11 and right in the thick of things and still on course for the playoffs. You had been part of the 3 game winning streak. Despite the loss is this team playing like a confident play off type team?
Despite the loss our team is very confident and playing like a playoff team. We have depth now on our roster and we just need to get a good rotation and continue to play hard as a team
You have only been here a short time, but in the short time have seen that Rent4Office is a team that can put up many points on the board, but also come to defend. What would you say is the teams biggest strength?
I think our teams biggest strength is our depth. We are a very deep team and we have a good group of guys that start the game and come off the bench
This is your first season in Europe after being in the States your whole life. How has the adjustment been for you on the court in general?
The adjustment for me in Europe has been good and a learning experience .Guys play very hard the whole game in Europe and the basketball is very organized.
You are a guy that can fill up the stat sheet. On a club that has many scoring options what exactly is your role on the team?
.My role on the team is to just simply make a difference in some way and help the team win. Whether its rebounding, defense, scoring or passing my job is to get on court and make a difference and give the team a big lift.
You can do very much on the court, but what do you feel today is still a hidden strength in your game that gets overlooked?
A hidden strength in my game that gets over looked is my defense. I am very long and athletic and can guard any position 1 through 3
Head coach Ralph Junge is probably the best German coach that deals with young players. What experience has it been so far working with him and what have you learned in the short time so far?
Coach Ralph is a great coach and very understanding. He is willing to work with players and help them with their game. I have learned that coach does not expect you to score 20 points a game he just wants you to play hard and help the team win
You have two very young German teammates with Kevin Bright who was the leading rebounder at Vanderbilt the one season he played there and Mauricio Marin. Bright is older than Marin, but how much potential do these two guys have?
The 2 young Germans have great potential. Kevin is a tough player very athletic and can also shoot Marin is a great scorer and can put the ball in the basket. They both will be great players in the future to come
You started the season with Sopron KC (Hungary-A Division). What was your wake up call to being in Europe where you were very far away from home?
The key wake up call to me being in Europe was the 8hr time difference from home and also the food.
After being a rookie in the D-league you played the last two seasons with Huracanes de Tampico (Mexico-LNBP). This is a step that many Americans take before coming to Europe. Did the individual success give you the needed self confidence to come to Europe?
Yes me playing in the D league and Mexico helped me out a lot and gave me confidence to go play in Europe with the best guys in the world. It also gave me experience to learn the game
Last summer you played briefly for Academia de la Montana Alavaro Contreras (Colombia-Liga DirecTV). What experience in South American will forever stay in your mind that you had there?
My experience in South America was great. I will forever remember the fans and how beautiful a city Medillien Columbia was.
In Mexico you played together with Ken Horton who is currently in the German Beko BBL with medi Bayreuth and Giesen 46er Suleiman Braimoh. Are these two guys a good example that hard works does reward a player by reaching a higer level in Europe?
Yes Ken Horton And Suleiman are great examples that hard work pays off. They started in small leagues and played great and kept working their way up to the top league. Those guys are close friends and great players
Ken Horton has been a very consistent performer for medi Bayreuth. He has scored in double figures since he arrived at Central Conn in 2006. What did you appreciate about his game most?
I appreciate how hard Ken plays and his shooting. He is an undersized 4 man, but plays hard and scores the ball really well
As a rookie you played for the Springfield Armour of the D-League. You played 13 games averaging 6.5ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.5apg, FGP: 42.6%, 3PT: 41.4%, FT: 33.3%. How was this whole experience for you? Did you learn quickly that making the NBA doesn´t always have to do with being the most talented?
Playing in the D league was a good experience. I learned that there are many politics involved with the NBA and its not always about how good you are but its about who you know and how big a name you have
You played at Maryland(NCAA) from 2007-2011. Despite some very talented teams why do you feel did Maryland in your time never make any noise in the NCAA tournament?
I feel like we did not make much noise in tournament at Maryland because we had a lot of selfish guys that did not want to play as a team
Is your buzzer beater against Georgia Tech where you had eight points in nine minutes and was the first buzzer beater since the Drew Nicholas buzzer beater in 2003 that beat NC Wilmington what you are most remembered by?
I am most remembered by my buzzer beater at Maryland. Was a great game and experience in a sold out arena. Helped our team tie for the ACC Chanpionship that year
Were your two best games against North Carolina where you averaged 20 points? Do you look back on those games remembering against all the future NBA talent that you played against?
Yes I think back to all my North Carolina games and remember the great players I played against. It helps my confidence and shows me that I can play with the best guys in the world
How did Gary Williams groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Gary Williams made me work for every minute I played and everything I had. He made me work on my game and taught me a lot about basketball and life
Who was the best player that you battled against in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
One of the toughest players is Harrison Barnes. He is a great player and good defender
Recently ESPN named the 100 best NBA players of all time. Do you feel it was justified to have Lebron before legends like Bill Russell, Magic and Larry Bird?
I am not sure if Lebron should be ahead of all those great hall of fame guys
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie i saw was Bad Boys 2.
Thanks Cliff for the chat.