Horton-Tucker Works Out for Magic

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - In the 2018 Maui Invitational Tournament in November against Illinois, a school he considered attending before committing to Iowa State, Talen Horton-Tucker had his best college performance, flirting with a triple-double with 26 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Even though he had a breakout performance on the offensive end that day, it was what he showed on the defensive side that may have been most impressive. Illinois shot just 38.3 percent from the field in that contest, an 84-68 victory for ISU, and the Chicago native’s ability to guard multiple positions was a big factor.

Although just a four-star recruit coming out of Simeon Career Academy, where he won three straight Chicago city championships, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder rapidly blossomed into one of the best combo guards in the nation.

What makes him such a promising defender is his length, strength and instincts. He has a 7-foot-1 wingspan, extraordinary for a shooting guard, and a powerful frame, a quality that should allow him to make an immediate impact at the next level.

Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament in 2019, largely because of its defensive intensity and versatility. Leading the way was Horton-Tucker, who recorded six blocks and four steals in Iowa State’s three games combined during the tournament.

The big question moving forward on Horton-Tucker is whether he can develop a consistent outside shot. He made only 30.8 percent of his 3-pointers, although he certainly wasn’t shy to take them, averaging 4.5 attempts. In a game against Kansas State in February, he drilled six triples. A few weeks later against Baylor, he knocked down five of them, so he’s capable of being a high-level 3-and-D player in the NBA right out of the gate.

Being able to play both guard spots is another reason some mock drafts have him projected to go in the first round. He showed in college that he’s a very good secondary playmaker, averaging 2.3 assists.

Although teams recognize that he is a project on the offensive side of the court, Horton-Tucker wants NBA clubs, like the Orlando Magic -- who he worked out for on Wednesday -- to know he is putting in max effort to refine his skills.

“I didn’t shoot it as well this past year but I feel like it comes with a lot of repetition and work and getting more shots up in the gym, taking my time,” he said. “Just focusing on following through and following the mechanics of my shot and I feel like I did that today. I shot it pretty well.”

Considering the Magic were one of the premier defensive teams in the league this past season and expect to be even better in 2019-20, Horton-Tucker thinks he’d fit in perfectly in Orlando and bring even more toughness to the roster.

“Any team that hopefully picks me, I’m going to come in, fulfill any role they want me to,” he said. “Basically, I see everybody (with a long wingspan) like Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, those guys have really long arms like myself. I feel like it would be a great thing.”

“Just knowing the whole history behind (the Magic), I actually was just watching the Shaq and Penny documentary a few days ago before I came here,” he added. “It’s been great. I feel like it’s a great organization.”

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