CHAMPAIGN - Rayvonte Rice is returning to his hometown.
Rice, the former Centennial star and the leading scorer in C-U boys basketball history, committed to Illinois this morning, he said today. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound guard is transferring after two seasons at Drake.
"With a new coach (at Illinois, John Groce) I just see it as a new opportunity. It's a fresh start for me," Rice said by phone from Des Moines. "And he recruited me at Ohio so I knew him."
Rice said he chose Illinois over Xavier. He was initially scheduled to visit Marquette this coming weekend but called coach Buzz Williams and canceled the visit. Memphis was also in the mix.
Rice would be eligible for the 2013-14 season after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
"I don't mind (sitting out one season)," he said. "I think it will give me a chance to get better and work on what I need to work on."
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.
Rice was named the 2010 News-Gazette State Player of the Year. He remains the leading scorer in Champaign-Urbana boys basketball history and averaged 23.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.9 steals as a senior at Centennial. He holds the school's single-season records for points (814) and the career records in scoring (1,810 points).
"I went to all the games (at Illinois) when I was younger," said Rice, who grew up in Champaign.