Tucker DeVries prepares to shoulder challenges awaiting in Big 12

(Full introduction press conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In a span of one week, Tucker DeVries went from competing for Drake in a first-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Washington State to sitting inside his future home venue at the WVU Coliseum, where it was announced Thursday by his father and new West Virginia head coach Darian DeVries that his son would play his senior season for the Mountaineers.

“It’s always nice when you get your first recruit,” said the elder DeVries. “I had to work hard this morning to get that one done.”

The rest of the West Virginia roster remains in question and while the recently-hired head coach will work in the near future to assemble a staff, he indicated he’d also meet with current members of the Mountaineers to figure out their plans. 

Based off that, DeVries and the staff he settles on can then work to fill out the roster, but they’ll have a strong starting point in the form of Tucker DeVries.

A two-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Tucker DeVries has 1,867 points and a scoring average of 18 over three seasons of college basketball, all of which he playing for the Bulldogs to this point.

As a junior, DeVries was the eighth leading scorer in Division I with an average of 21.6 points. He scored  That allowed him to repeat as MVC Player of the Year after scoring 18.6 points per game to earn the prestigious honor a season earlier.

He became the 11th MVC player to win the award twice after scoring double figures in 65 of 68 games over the previous two seasons.

“There’s definitely a little more target on you back the second time around,” DeVries said. “People always give you your best shot and your best defender, and as you get older, people start to figure you out a little bit more game plan wise and maybe send an extra guy or two at you the second time around. It was a fun year and I’m thankful for everything that happened this past year, but excited for a new journey.”

Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Drake Bulldogs guard Tucker DeVries (12) shoots against Washington State Cougars forward Jaylen Wells (0) in the second half in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There will be next to no basketball activity for DeVries as his journey at a new home begins. Only two days before his dad was introduced as the 23rd head coach in WVU men’s basketball history, Tucker DeVries underwent surgery on his right shoulder, which has given him problems at times over the last two seasons for different reasons. 

It was painful enough this time around that near the midway point of the most recent campaign, the Waukee, Iowa, native gave thought to calling it a season.

“Halfway through the year, I had to battle through some things and maybe even thought about shutting it down one or two times throughout the year,” DeVries said. “I was able to do enough to feel like I could help the team and then after the season is over, worry about fixing it and trying to get back healthy as quick as possible to get working for next year.”

As he sat front row with a sling over his right shoulder and watched his dad give welcoming remarks Thursday before taking on his first Power 5-level head coaching gig, DeVries thought of how his game will translate to a higher level when he’s able to don a Mountaineer uniform.

He averaged no fewer than 13.9 points over three seasons at Drake, shot 43.7 percent for his Bulldogs’ career, made 250 three-pointers and averaged at least 4.6 rebounds each year, including 6.7 in the most recent season.

“The next step is learning to play with the physicality and speed of the Big 12,” DeVries said. “It’s certainly going to be an adjustment for anybody, but no matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement somewhere. Trying to get healthy, get back to work and doing whatever I can to expand my game to help the team and help this team win a lot of games and be part of it.”

With his home for his final college season now settled, DeVries can turn all of his attention in the near future toward getting healthier as he acclimates to new surroundings.

“Recovery shouldn’t be too long,” he said. “Just had to fix some things that occurred about halfway through the year.”

As a whirlwind of March winds down, Tucker DeVries is welcoming a new opportunity and his next challenge, while he hopes to show he can duplicate past success at the highest level of college basketball.

“Being at a higher level, there’s going to be more expectations,” he said. “We’re both excited for that and ready to give everything we can to fulfill those expectations and get to where we need to be.”

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