We’re counting down the 25 best former Texas athletes still competing in their sport. Each day we’ll reveal a new athlete.
No. 14 P.J. Tucker, basketball
P.J. Tucker is one of the best Texas basketball players of all-time. The North Carolina native scored 1,169 points at Texas and earned second-team All-American honors as well as Big 12 Player of the Year honors during his three seasons at Texas. Playing in the post-T.J. Ford and pre-Kevin Durant era at Texas, he teamed with future No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft LaMarcus Aldridge and helped lead the Longhorns to the Elite Eight in 2006 before the team fell in overtime to LSU.
Pro career: Tucker has one of the best stories ever in terms of how his career took off when it comes to Longhorn pros. After earning conference player of the year honors, he declared for the draft (imagine if he had stayed and teamed with Durant the next season?) and was selected in the second round, 35th overall by the Toronto Raptors. That first stint with the Raptors wasn’t long for Tucker. He bounced from the NBA developmental league to the main roster before eventually being waived in March of 2007. He spent from 2007 until 2012 rebuilding his career in Europe before the Phoenix Suns signed him in the summer of 2012. His career blossomed, and he spent the better part of five seasons with the Suns and even signed a 3-year, $16.5 million contract with the Suns. He was eventually traded back to the Raptors last season to help the team with their playoff chase that ended in the second round. In the summer of 2017, he signed a 4-year, $32 million contract with the Rockets and has been a key member of one of the league’s best teams, averaging 6.1 points, 5.6 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game.
Why he’s here: Tucker isn’t a superstar or even more than a part-time starter, but he’s a player that will likely spend the rest of his career on championship contending teams due to his ability to shoot (37 percent from 3-point land), play defense and rebound. He’s already helped the Rockets, scoring 18 points in the closeout first-round game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tucker went from a half decade playing for teams like the Piratas de Quebradillas in Puerto Rico in 2011 to making more than $18 million since 2012.
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