Hello, my name is Rodney Stuckey.
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Who’s That Guy?

NEW YORK, June 27, 2007 -- He's the guy you haven't seen play before.

Every other player in the Green Room is from a major conference or is an international sensation. Corey Brewer, Al Horford and Joakim Noah have won two straight national championships at Florida. Jeff Green, Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden have also been on the big stage that is the Final Four. Kevin Durant, Acie Law and Julian Wright played in the Big 12. Nick Young and Spencer Hawes were in the Pac-10, while Al Thornton and Brandan Wright were in the ACC. All of the above have been on national television several times.

And of course, there's Yi Jianlian, the next big import from China.

But Rodney Stuckey played under the radar at Eastern Washington. The name of his conference does indeed start with "Big", but it also ends with "Sky", and that means that you probably can't name more than two or three of the nine schools in it.

Go ahead. Try.

Now, click on this link to complete your list.

Only one player in Big Sky history (Michael Ray Richardson in 1978) has ever been selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, and only one player from Eastern Washington (Ron Cox in 1977) has ever been drafted at all.

Stuckey is poised to be No. 2 in each category. And most people who are watching on TV will wonder who he is and where he came from.

"I'm like the unknown in this draft," Stuckey said the day before his life would change. "That's what everyone's been saying throughout this process. But I love it. Just let me be the unknown, you know? No one really knowing who I am, I'm gonna surprise a lot of people once everything starts happening."

Stuckey could have played in the Pac 10, but his high school grades weren't good enough to be eligible to play as a freshman, and the Pac 10 does not allow Prop 48 players. So he went to Eastern Washington and sat out a year.

Three years later, he's not only the two-time Big Sky MVP, he's also a two-time member of the Big Sky All-Academic team and a member of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American third team, with a GPA of 3.34.

And his studies were not the only thing he worked on in Cheney.

"I was the first one in the gym and I was the [last] one out of the gym every day," Stuckey said. "Just working on my game. When you do that and you come out and perform every day to your abilities, no matter how good you are, they will find you."

And find them they did. NBA scouts started showing up at his games when he started playing for EWU his sophomore year. A strong 6-5 combo guard, he's been compared to Dwyane Wade, who happens to be his favorite player. In a few months, he'll be playing against Wade, at a level of basketball much higher than he's ever played on.

And he's been dreaming about it for a long time.

"Ever since I was a little kid," Stuckey said. "Just growing up watching Michael Jordan win all those championships. When you're a little kid, this is your dream to become an NBA player. Every time I watched basketball, I was like 'Hey, I'm gonna be in that situation one day.' And I just kept saying that in my head, and here I am in that situation."

And despite a tough childhood -- "Growing up wasn't so easy for me ... It was difficult ... Living house to house and stuff like that" -- and the aforementioned academic issues, Stuckey never lost sight of his dream. He never let the thought that this might not happen enter his mind.

"I never thought that," he said. "If you're thinking that, then that's doubt. You never want doubt in your mind."

He's one of seven kids and he has a 2 1/2 year-old daughter of his own. So, he's got two huge sources of motivation: his mom and his little girl.

One of the first things he wants to do after signing an NBA contract is buy his mom a house. And of course, the ultimate concern for any parent is the welfare of their child.

"She's such a blessing to me," Stuckey said of his daughter. "She's everything to me right now. That's the most important thing to me besides my family, just making sure that she's taken care of and she's gonna be OK."

Both his mom and his daughter will be with him Thursday night in the Green Room, along with one of his sisters, one of his brothers and his Godparents.

"They're excited just as much as I am," Stuckey said. "I just can't wait until tomorrow."

It's a situation that can be a little overwhelming for a guy who played in a small conference and was never thinking he'd be one of the Green Room guys until the very end of the draft process.

"I've never seen this many media in my life," he said. "This whole process is just ridiculous. I'm never gonna experience nothing like this ever again. So, I'm taking it in. It's a blessing to be in this situation right now."

He's projected to go in the middle of the first round, with many speculating he has a promise from fellow small-schooler Joe Dumars and the Pistons at pick No. 15, but Stuckey's not sure where he'll end up.

"To tell you the truth, I haven't heard a promise," he said.

But that's OK. Whether it's Detroit, any of the other six teams he worked out for, or some city he's never been to, Stuckey just wants a chance to prove himself and let everyone know who he is.

"It doesn't really matter where I go," Stuckey said. "I know that I can play with the best and that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna prove it."

And before long, you're going to know who Rodney Stuckey is. Hopefully, now you know where he's coming from.


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