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G League standout Rayjon Tucker calls joining the Utah Jazz ‘the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten’

SHARE G League standout Rayjon Tucker calls joining the Utah Jazz ‘the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten’

Milwaukee Bucks’ Rayjon Tucker poses for a portrait during the NBA basketball team’s media day Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, in Milwaukee.

Darren Hauck, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Rayjon Tucker, fresh off an impressive showing with the Wisconsin Herd at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas, was on the radar of many teams that were in search of a diamond in the rough. In the end, it was the Utah Jazz that landed the 22-year-old undrafted rookie.

On Monday night his agent called him and gave Tucker the news. He would be headed to Utah to join the Jazz on a guaranteed contract through the rest of the season.

“The best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten, for sure,” Tucker said Thursday morning following the Jazz shootaround at Zions Bank Basketball Campus, roughly 12 hours after he arrived in Salt Lake City.

Tucker said he immediately called his mother when he got the news he was signing with an NBA team, but was mildly disappointed in her initial reaction.

“She had three stages (of reactions) which was really funny,” he said.

First his mother was relaxed and told him how much he deserved what he had worked hard for. He called her again later and her excitement level was through the roof. The next morning he called her again and that, Tucker said, was when the waterworks turned on.

“That’s what I was waiting on the first time, but it didn’t quite happen the way I thought it would,” he said with a laugh. “She didn’t cry fast enough.”

Now that Tucker is with the team, his first task will be getting acquainted with Quin Snyder’s system. The biggest hurdle in that department will be letting go of the differing terminology he got used to with the Herd, where the team implemented a healthy portion of the Milwaukee Bucks schemes.

Though Snyder’s system is known for its complexity, Tucker isn’t worried. He considers himself a quick study and is looking forward to diving in with the help of some familiar faces.

Tucker had a predraft workout with the Jazz so it’s not his very first introduction, and before that, when he was in high school he squared off in a dunk contest with Donovan Mitchell in 2015.

“I remember that like it was yesterday,” Mitchell said. “He jumps higher than me, for sure, I’ll give him that. But we’ll have to definitely run it back because he came in second, I came in third.”

Both players said there could be a sneak peek of some of renewed dunking rivalry during warmups on game nights, and of course there will be friendly competition behind closed doors during practice.