His hobby is sleeping, and is usually seen asleep whenever he's not on the court; he can even ride his bike while asleep. Waking Rukawa from a nap is considered unforgivable, since he will almost automatically beat up the culprit. Unsurprisingly, he has also been in his fair share of off-court fights, but can hold his own. Rukawa's goal is to be the best high school player in Japan, and he considers Sendoh of Ryonan to be his greatest rival.
Rukawa is extremely good at basketball, and possesses a wide range of skills to complement his height, athleticism and drive to win. Despite being merely a first-year high school player, he is the undisputed ace of Shohoku's team. In the Kanagawa Inter-high Tournament, he was named one of the top five players, the only first year player so honored. He has managed to change the course of many games, such as when he single-handedly brought Shohoku back from a double-digit deficit against Kainan. He even managed to continue in the game against Toyotama despite losing vision in one eye due to an intentional foul and could take free throws with his eyes closed.
However, his style was criticized as being too selfish, and he sometimes comes into conflict with his teammates for various reasons; this was one of the reasons why Coach Anzai refused to give him his blessing when Rukawa told him that he intended to go to the USA, and told him to become the best in Japan before he even thought of it. When he was outplayed by Sawakita during the match against Sannoh Technical, though, he realized that he had to change his style and pass the ball. It was his pass that led to Hanamichi's buzzer-beating shot, winning the match. Rukawa is subsequently named a member of the All-Japan basketball team.
At first, many noticed Rukawa's potential to be a future basketball star. Ryonan's Head Coach Taoka was surprised that Rukawa was just a freshman. He noted that at such a young age, Rukawa has what it takes to be a high school basketball team ace. According to Sendoh and Coach Anzai, his speed and athleticism combined with his drive to win and explosive strength, he is unstoppable on the court. He was able to continue the match against Toyotama even with just one eye, by shooting free throws with his eyes closed.
His abilities were so great that he was able to play on equal footing against Toyotama's Tsuyoshi Minami and Ryonan's Sendoh. Moroboshi quoted that he's almost the same level as Sawakita Eiji, The Number 1 High School Basketball Player as he was able to push Sawakita to the moment that the latter burst out his true abilities. Coach Takato of Kainan was even impressed with Rukawa as he was able to outscore the whole Kainan team in the last stages of the first half against Shohoku. Coach Taoka quoted on his dunk over Maki that the only player who can manage to dunk the ball like that is Rukawa as he pumped the ball in mid-air avoiding Maki's block and then dunking the ball to the rim.
His defensive skills are also not to be reckoned with as he was able to produce steals and clean blocks. In the match against Shoyo, he was able to block Toru Hanagata from behind then starting a fast break on the other end. Other than that, he managed to make a surprising steal with just under a minute to play against Kainan and then scoring on the other end.
One of the most astonishing abilities of Rukawa is his ability to surprise people and increase the level of his usual basketball skills. This was proven against Toyotama and Sannoh. The game against Toyotama was one of his best performances as he was able to produce his best basketball even with one eye and shooting free throws with his eyes closed, surprising the opponent and the whole arena, then against Sannoh when he realized that he was outplayed by Sawakita in a battle of 1 on 1, he took a chance of changing his playing style by passing the ball and playing unselfishly, not only causing Sawakita to lose focus but also helping Shohoku reach their true potential as a team.
Rukawa considers Sendoh to be his greatest rival and obstacle. Someone that he needs to beat. When Coach Anzai declared that he is still below Sendoh, he challenged Sendoh to a one on one game. There he realized that he and Sendoh are on equal footing.
Sendoh is the ace player of Ryonan, he is the most known rival of Rukawa and he always want to challenge him to find out who is the best ace player. They always had a one on one game during their game practice and in the real match. However, Coach Anzai believe he is still weaker than Sendoh. To be the strongest ace player, Rukawa challenges Sendoh one on one but their game ends in a tie.
Sendoh gave Rukawa a teaching that being an ace player is not just challenging someone else on one on one. An Ace has many weapons; attack is only one way.
Sawakita is the best ace player in Japan. Ever since childhood, he plays basketball. During the match between Sannoh and Shohoku, Rukawa keeps on challenging Sawakita but their abilities are in big difference. Inspite this fact, Rukawa kept on challenging Sawakita on one on one.
- When Shohoku was fighting Kainan when it was on the second quarter, Rukawa was tired and Sakuragi was the one that had the rebound Rukawa cheered for Sakuragi.
- He never seems to notice that Haruko has a crush on him.
- When he told the reason why he went Shohoku high school is because it's near his house.
- When Sakuragi has a funny part Rukawa also joins in and calls him idiot or stupid.
- Both Rukawa and Minamino Kanade from the Suite Pretty Cure♪ have similar to real name.
- He may have realized that he can become the number 1 player in Japan not needing to go to America. He started to realize this when coach Anzai told him that he is "still below Sendoh" and Sendoh telling him that he is not using his potentials "fully". In other words, he has to pass.