Rice's mom: 'Nothing but love for Rayvonte'

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).

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PeterE wrote on April 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

Sign Simeon's Kendrick Nunn instead of Rice.

Dan Bloeme wrote on April 23, 2012 at 9:04 am

I agree on Nunn. Rice would be an awkward player in that he would tie up 3 years of scholarship while only playing two starting in 2013-14 (sits out a year). Rice is a shooting guard but doesn't shoot well from 3pt range at only 24.1% His playmaking and ball handling is in question too as he has more turnovers than assists (2.5/gm to - 1.6/gm as). Rayvonte is really more like a watered down Brandon Paul. Nunn for example is a much better shooter and also better ball handler. There is a reason Nunn is a 2013 (top 25) rated player unlike Rice was coming out of HS. Illinois top needs still remain a true point guard and true backup center. Unfortunately Rice doesn't fit either need however and ties up a scholarship for 3 years, better used elsewhere. I hope Illini Pass!



helping wrote on April 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Your argument makes no sense.  The 1st year scholarship would be next season where Illinois already has 3 unused, open schollies, so that's no problem, and he'd give them enough bodies for reasonable practices.  Illinois will still have 5 open schollies for next year's class even if they take Rice.  Nunn is in a completely different class, getting Rice should have no impact on Nunn's availability or role, since Rice would be a junior the same year that Nunn would be a freshman.

Beside if Groce plays a more up tempo pace, he's going to need a deeper bench than Bruce ever used.  Plus, Rice was still the MVC's #3 scorer as a soph and led Champaign to the state title.  We can use guys that know how to win the big prize.  Hopefully, Nunn will be another one, but Rice has that on his resume as well.


afan wrote on April 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

It looks like Groce is off to a good start recruiting.  Rice looks like he'd be a great pick up.  Definitely a cut above the usual run of transfers.

CecilColeman wrote on April 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm

If he was so highly regarded (Xavier - - Marquette - - Memphis), how did "Ace Recruiter" Jerrance Howard, Weber and staff NOT land him??

Dann001 wrote on April 21, 2012 at 2:04 am

Hey, if this kid sits out a year and is able to practice with the team, he could be a star recruit! He's already proven himself in both realms. I hope Groce gets him.

toddalan1975 wrote on April 21, 2012 at 9:04 am

The new staff is smart in trying to get this kid!   The old staff had poor judgement when it came to local kids.    Lewis Jackson is another example of a kid who should have came to Illinois.   I hope we land him. 

helping wrote on April 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

You can add Robbie Hummel to that list as well, along with Verdell Jones, Jacob Pullen, Jeremy Pargo, etc.

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