Dec. 31, 2008
Consider it the Senior Day he was never able to receive.
Former Eastern Washington University men’s basketball All-American and current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey will have his EWU jersey retired in ceremonies that will take place on Sunday, Jan. 11 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The event takes place in conjunction with Eastern’s Big Sky Conference game against Weber State that starts at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time and will be televised live regionally on Altitude Sports and Entertainment. The Pistons play at Utah the night before, and don’t play again until Charlotte visits Detroit on Jan. 13.
"I am very honored and humbled to have my EWU jersey retired," said Stuckey on Tuesday (Dec. 30). "I have so many wonderful memories from my college days and I’m thankful to the University, the fans, my coaches and my teammates."
Stuckey played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Eastern before becoming a first-round draft choice (15th overall) by the Pistons in the 2007 National Basketball Association draft. He became Detroit’s full-time starter at point guard earlier this month on Dec. 9, and on Dec. 23 had a breakthrough game with 40 points, four assists and four steals in a 104-98 victory over Chicago. The Pistons are 7-3 since he became a starter and 18-11 overall.
Considering that this would have been his senior season at EWU had he remained in college, it’s appropriate that Stuckey is being honored in such a manner. He spent three years on the EWU campus and still has many friends in Cheney, including former high school teammate Aaron Boyce, who is an All-America wide receiver for the Eagle football team.
"It will be great to be back at Eastern where it all began," Stuckey added. "I know it will be a special day and I’m happy to share this experience with all the people who supported me throughout my college career."
Stuckey was an All-American at Eastern -- both athletically and academically -- after averaging 24 points per game in each of his two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07). He helped EWU win 30 games in two seasons and had a 3.34 grade point average. A 2004 graduate of Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., Stuckey was a NCAA non-qualifier and had to sit out the 2004-05 season at EWU.
"We’ve talked about honoring Rodney by retiring his jersey for some time now," said Eastern Athletic Director Bill Chaves. "What he accomplished here in two seasons and Detroit in two more is nothing short of phenomenal, and it’s thrilling to watch his progress in the NBA. We’re excited to have him back on campus to give him the recognition he deserved but didn’t get because of how highly-regarded he was by the NBA."
Stuckey is coming off a 19-point effort in an 88-82 victory over Orlando on Monday (Dec. 29), adding five rebounds and four assists in 41 minutes of action. The Pistons have won four-straight games heading into Wednesday’s (Dec. 31) game against New Jersey.
Through 26 games this season (12 as a starter), the second-year pro is averaging 12.3 points, 5.1 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 26.1 minutes per game. In his 83-game career (14 as a starter), Stuckey is averaging 8.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 21.6 minutes per game.
In his first four games as a full-time starter (including a three-game winning streak), he averaged a double-double -- 15.5 points and 10.0 assists. In his 40-point output against Chicago, Stuckey made 15-of-24 shots from the field with his outstanding driving and finishing ability. He also sank 9-of-11 free throws, and his passing has also been exceptional. Since taking over as a starter, he has averaged 6.6 assists in those 10 games to go along with a 17.6 scoring average.
Although several Eastern football players have been honored previously in such a manner -- including the retired No. 84 jersey of Bob Picard -- it’s believed that no Eastern men’s basketball player has had his jersey retired. Eastern’s all-time leading basketball scorer (1,741) and rebounder (1,273) Ron Cox is another candidate after being drafted in the sixth round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1977, but an injury kept him from playing a game in the NBA.
Cox was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, and Stuckey will no doubt join him as a member as soon as soon as he’s placed on the ballot. Another such professional is current Tennessee Titan offensive tackle Michael Roos, who is also a prime candidate to have his jersey retired in the near future. Roos recently became the first-ever Eastern football player to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
"Rodney and Michael have both had unprecedented success in the professional ranks for former Eastern student-athletes," said Chaves. "We are extremely proud of them both and greatly look forward to honoring Rodney on Jan. 11. The great talent he put on display for Eastern fans for two seasons is now being watched by a world-wide audience. It’s truly exciting."
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