2012-12-04 / Front Page

Cloverdale, Butler Standout Chad Tucker To Join Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame

Late Forward Remains As Bulldogs’ All-Time Career Leading Scorer
by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


C had Tucker goes for a block against a Terre Haute South opponent during a regional championship win. Tucker is still third on Cloverdale’s alltime boys’ basketball scoring list with 1,338 points. 
(SEW File Photo) C had Tucker goes for a block against a Terre Haute South opponent during a regional championship win. Tucker is still third on Cloverdale’s alltime boys’ basketball scoring list with 1,338 points. (SEW File Photo) For his father and high school coach, Al Tucker, it was not a question of “if” but “when” former Cloverdale High School and Butler University basketball star forward Chad Tucker would be inducted into Indiana’s Basketball Hall of Fame (IBHOF). The announcement of his admission here in late 2012 is a fitting ending to the Tucker family’s bittersweet journey.

Serving on the IBHOF Board of Directors, Al knew the good news in advance and shared it with the Tucker family over Thanksgiving dinner.

“It’s something I anticipated would happen at some point in time, but I really didn’t know that I’d be around to experience it,” Al explained. “We’re very humbled, very proud and it’s an honor not only for the family, but for the school, the county and the surrounding counties. There are a lot of people who had contact in one way or another with Chad, myself and my family. It’s something that’s almost indescribable. We’re very grateful.”


C had Tucker drives to the basket in this undated photo provided courtesy of the Butler University Athletics Department. Tucker remains the university’s all-time leading scorer with 2,321 points. 
(Photo Courtesy of Butler University) C had Tucker drives to the basket in this undated photo provided courtesy of the Butler University Athletics Department. Tucker remains the university’s all-time leading scorer with 2,321 points. (Photo Courtesy of Butler University) Nearly 11 years after his passing in 1996, Chad was inducted into the Butler University Athletic Hall of Fame in February of 2007. Shortly thereafter he was selected as a member of the 2007 Indiana High School Silver Anniversary Team by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

“The whole thing has been a roller coaster journey for me and my family, I just hope people realize that when a tragedy happens, you just have to pick up the pieces and move on,” Al said. “We have been able to do that and this is kind of the culmination of a great career for him. We’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to live where we do because we have a tremendous support group in the county and surrounding counties.”

Chad’s three years of varsity time playing for his father produced enough points to make him the third-leading scorer in Cloverdale boys’ basketball history with 1,338 points.

As a junior, Chad averaged 15.5 points a game, nearly identical to the 15.4 points per game averaged by his best friend, Jerry Neese. Jim Price led the team with 19.4 points per game, but following his graduation, Chad stepped up with 24.5 points each night as a senior. He averaged a double-double with 10 rebounds each game, shooting 74 percent from the free throw line and 55 percent from the field in his 27 games as a senior for the Clovers.

“Needless to say, coaches do not always have a fun time or a positive experience in coaching their own sons,” Al said. “I’ve seen some horrible things happen in my career coaching against other coaches who had sons. At Mooresville once, the coach put his son into the game and the home crowd started booing. That’s the kind of stuff I had to experience, but never with Chad. Now the fans would have booed me if I had taken him out of the game, but there was a tremendous amount of support for Chad and his running mate, Jerry Neese. Jerry went on to have a great career at Vincennes and the University of Indianapolis. They both came up as sophomores and neither one of them were going to be starters early in the season, by my choice. In our first game of the season against Cascade, the game ended up in overtime and Chad and Jerry scored all 14 points in that overtime period. We won the game and needless to say, I ended up starting them as sophomores, much earlier than I anticipated.”

In the 1982-1983 season, Chad and Jerry led Cloverdale to a semi-state shot against Princeton, though cam up just short of a win, 58-54, to end the season with a 21-7 record.

“They both had great careers. Ironically, we were playing Owen Valley when they were seniors and Jerry and Chad both reached the 1,000-point plateau in the same game at Owen Valley,” Al recalled. “Jerry got it before Chad got it and I remember asking John Heckman before the game if he had a problem stopping the game to award the game ball. It’s one of the highlights of my coaching career. They were inseparable as friends, grew up together and spent a lot of times in each other’s homes, so for something like that to happen is unheard of.”

Selected to the same Indiana All-Star team as Indiana University star Steve Alford, Chad went on to star at Butler University, where he remains the school’s alltime career leading scorer with 2,321 points. Inside the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, Chad averaged 20.9 points throughout his four years and 18.9 points during away games in his 117- game career for the Bulldogs.

The 6’8” forward recorded 108 double-figure scoring nights, including 59 games with 20 or more points. He remains listed among the school’s top ten in scoring, rebounding, field goal shooting and free throw shooting.

In each of his final three seasons, Chad was named Butler’s Most Valuable Player, earned allconference honors and was a 1985 honorable mention All-American.

“I guess the thing I’ve always got a lot of satisfaction out of is how well he did at Butler. I referred to him years ago as the Rodney Dangerfield of Indiana basketball. There was not a single Division I school in Indiana that made any effort whatsoever to recruit him until Butler came onto the scene in the last game of his senior year,” All recalled. “The coach at DePauw University at that time was Mike Steele, who had been an assistant at Butler. He kept telling the people at Butler, ‘You’ve got to see this kid.’ So they went to the last regular season game at Mooresville and they did not miss a game from there on out, they went to every sectional game, both regional games and the semi state game when we got beat by Princeton. Then I had a message waiting for me on Monday morning from Joe Sexton, Butler’s coach. He immediately came down and gave Chad the opportunity to sign that night. We were told by the rest of the schools that he could not play Division I basketball. If there was ever a selfmade player, he would be one. He didn’t perhaps have the skill level or athleticism a lot of kids had, but he had a big heart and made the most of what he had.”

Despite NBA tryouts with the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers, Chad’s professional basketball career spanned seven years in a variety of places overseas.

“His best tour was one year in Taiwan, which was not a good scene, but he was there for four years,” Al said. “He was in Australia for a season, and he was in France for a number of short term stints. He never did really get a legitimate full-time career over there, but he made enough money to get a start in life. Then he had some back problems in his early 30s that forced him to retire, but that’s about the length of a professional basketball player’s career anyway.”

Chad is joined in the Hall of Fame class of 2013 by LaVern Benson, a 1958 Crispus Attucks graduate and Phil Dawkins of the 1960 state champion Each Chicago Washington squad. Gene Demaree of New Marion High School, Chuck Franzi of Clarksville, Scott Haffner of Noblesville, Boby Heady of Frankton and 1980 Indiana Mr. Basketball James Master of Harding.

The class also includes Carl Meditch of Indianapolis Tech, Alan Nass of Huntingburg, former 1973 ABA Champion Indiana Pacer Bill ‘Fig’ Newton of Rockville and Michigan City Rogers’ Dan Palombizio. Dick Piper of Chester Township and Robert Rousey of Anderson are also included.

The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame induction banquet will be held on Wednesday, March 20. The reception will be held at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum in New Castle and an evening banquet will be held at Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets will be made available in early 2013 by calling 765-529-1891, or visiting www.hoopshall.com.

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