Rice's mom: 'Nothing but love for Rayvonte'
CHAMPAIGN — As a prep star at Centennial, Rayvonte Rice scored the most points of any player in C-U boys' basketball history.
Now there's a chance he comes home to finish his college career.
Rice returned to his hometown for a visit to the Illinois campus this weekend, he said Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound guard is transferring after two seasons at Drake.
Illinois is Rice's second campus visit as he looks for his next destination. His mom, Rhonda Rice, said they took a visit to Xavier last weekend. Xavier assistant Kareem Richardson, a former Rantoul star and Drake assistant, was the lead recruiter on Rice when he committed to Drake.
Rice has been a hot commodity for programs looking to add a versatile scorer. As a sophomore at Drake, he averaged 16.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and was the third-leading scorer in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Other schools in the mix include Marquette, a significant player in this recruitment, and Memphis.
Rice would sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He would have two seasons of eligibility remaining. Illinois coach John Groce and his staff are familiar with Rice, having recruited him while at Ohio University.
And Rice would fill a specific need for the Illini; an experienced scorer that could step in when veteran guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson depart after the 2012-13 season.
"The (Illinois) coaches are great," Rhonda Rice said. "I like coach (Jamall) Walker. I like (Groce). He's been very straightforward. They've shown nothing but love for Rayvonte."
Though Rice grew up in Champaign, the family felt it was important to get a better feel for campus life at the university. He likely will tour the campus and basketball facilities and earn a closer look today.
Rice was the News-Gazette's 2010 All-State Player of the Year. As a senior at Centennial he averaged 23.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.9 steals. He holds the school's single-season (814 points) and career records (1,810) for points.
The 2008-09 Chargers won the Class 3A state title and featured four players that went on to earn Division I scholarships: Rice, Josh Piper
(Eastern Illinois), Jeff Johnson (Eastern Kentucky) and James Kinney Jr. (Ohio/Eastern Utah/San Jose State).