What to expect from Rayvonte Rice at Illinois?
Who better to ask than coaches that compiled scouting reports on him?
Three coaches that game-planned against Drake last season offered similar opinions of the 6-4 guard that is transferring to Illinois.
Two positive constants stood out in their scouting reports: Rice’s powerful body (the former Centennial football standout is around 235 pounds) creates mismatches and his scoring ability (he led the Bulldogs in scoring in both seasons at Drake).
“I’d say 85 percent of his scoring came from 5 feet outside the right block. That’s what we tried to take away,” said one coach from the Missouri Valley Conference. “He still scores. He just overpowered our guys. And we’ve got some guys that can guard. “It doesn’t matter what level he’s playing at. For his position, the guys that are guarding him, he’s stronger than them. We put our strongest guy on him. He still got his.”
The 2010 News-Gazette State Player of the Year, Rice will sit out next season before becoming eligible for the 2013-14 season. He averaged 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds as a sophomore at Drake.
The question – as it always is with transfers from outside the power conferences – is how Rice’s game will translate to the Big Ten. All three of the coaches surveyed said his scoring ability should translate well – mainly because of his size as a perimeter player.
“I think it’s a great pickup as far as a transfer. He’ll get his feet wet in that first year and then move into the lineup after that,” one opposing coach said. “Purdue was looking at him. That tells you something. At our level he physically imposed himself on people and made himself a scorer because of his size. I don’t think that changes (in the Big Ten).
“He’s hard to guard. He’s what, 220-plus? It’s basically got a small-forward’s body. There aren’t many 190-pound guards that can deal with him, whatever league he’s in. You’ll have to put a bigger guy on him.”
Another coach said, “He’s going to score (at Illinois). He’s not going to score 16 a game like (he did) in the Valley – that won’t happen – but he’ll score. He’s not a great shooter. He’ll have to get better there. But he’ll find a way to score points.”
Coaches cited two weaknesses: inconsistencies on his jumpshot (he made 27 percent of his three-point attempts at Drake) and effort on defense.
“He can probably defend better. He gets a lot of steals but I wouldn’t say he’s been a great defender,” one coach said. “He needs to shoot it better. We didn’t guard his (outside) shot as much. But he likes to drive it. He’s a drive-first kind of guy. I don’t think he’ll be an All-League guy (at Illinois), but he’ll be productive.”