By Nick Veronica
Writers who cover Southern Methodist University sports thought they had a scoop Friday afternoon when Kenmore West junior Aaron Tucker told them he had committed to play basketball for the Mustangs.
Tucker gave interviews and told a reporter “SMU is where I’m supposed to be.”
The only problem: SMU has never heard of Tucker.
Billy Embody, who broke the story, told me Tucker texted him Friday morning to say he had committed.
“We’ve had consistent contact about when he talked with coaches, when they offered, etc,” Embody said in a DM. “I asked him about his conversation with SMU and the lie began.”
Embody said he retracted his report after talking with a source close to the program who had never heard of Tucker and a phone call from SMU’s sports information director. (SMU confirmed separately to IAGS that it is not recruiting Tucker.)
Tucker exchanged DMs with Embody after the retraction and denied not having an offer, but stopped responding when Embody asked for his coach’s phone number.
UPDATE: Tucker admitted to lying about his recruitment Sunday night: “I did it out of jealously.”
One writer on Embody’s site, PonyStampede.com, tweeted a link to a story he wrote Friday after a phone call with Tucker. The story has since been deleted, but I was able to get a screen grab.
“The biggest reason for committing was coach [Larry] Brown,” Tucker told writer Andrew Hattersley. “I just love the system and the way he preaches defense.”
Adam Grosbard, a writer for a different SMU blog, PonyPride.com, reported earlier this week that Tucker had an offer and would commit to SMU “without a doubt” after the high school season. That apparently changed Friday afternoon when he tweeted that Tucker had committed, but that was followed later by a retraction.
Tucker (@D1_Aaron2) retweeted a story about his commitment Friday afternoon but has not tweeted since reporters retracted their reports. His header picture is the SMU logo. Tucker recently transferred from crosstown rival Kenmore East, where he played point guard, and lived in Michigan before that (Detroit, to be specific).
“One thing my mom and dad have always instilled in me is be hungry and humble,” Tucker told the Tonawanda News for a story just this past week. “I try to be first in whatever I do. Not even from a basketball aspect but the academic aspect. I could have all the talent in the world, but if my grades aren’t right, I’ll never step on the floor.”
Tucker is also quoted in the article saying his father, identified as Robert, played basketball at Syracuse. No one named Tucker came up in three separate lists of every basketball player in Syracuse history. The only players named Rob or Robert were Robert Popp in 1939 and Rob McClanaghan at the turn of the millennium. If he went by Bob and has a different last name than Tucker, he would’ve had to have been in college in the 1970s.
“It’s nice [SMU] is so far from home because I didn’t want to be so close to my mom,” Tucker told a separate reporter earlier this month.
“I’m feeling really good about myself,” he concluded. “My confidence is at an all-time [high]. We’re working hard and we’ll have a big year.”
UPDATE: NCCC assistant Mike Corbi sends this nugget: