Monday, August 3, 2009

Rice a fast-rising prospect

Note: This article was originally published on

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With the Rising Stars (Ill.) down by three in the waning moments of overtime in the semi-finals of the AAU Super Showcase against Each One Teach One (Fla.), they had several options for the game-tying shot.

They could have gone to Cal-commit Alex Rossi, who hit a three at the buzzer of regulation. Ohio State-bound Lenzelle Smith had been the go-to-guy all game, while Iowa-pledge Ben Brust had helped lead the Stars to a win over All-Ohio Red the day before.

However, the choice for the final shot? Rayvonte Rice.

It didn’t matter that Rice’s attempt hit the back rim and the Rising Stars lost, it was the decision
to leave the fate of the team in the hands of Rice.

“I love close games,” said Rice, who finished with 18 points in the loss. “I love having pressure on me; I should have hit that last shot.”

Rice is a strong, 6-2, 190-lb. swingman out of Centennial High School in Champaign, Ill., and a rising prospect in the class of 2010.

He has a solid build and can score around the basket as well as from the perimeter. He is stronger than most players at his position, which gives him an edge on the backboards and in the paint.

“I’m more of a power guard,” Rice said. “I can play on the wing, and I like to get to the hole.”

With some of the top AAU teams in the country participating at the Wide World of Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, the Midwest-based Rising Stars were overlooked heading into the tournament. However, they finished second in their pool, including a 34-point win over Hoop Planet and a 20-point victory over the Alabama Lasers.

They really made waves, though, when they knocked off the best AAU team in the country over the past three years, All-Ohio Red – led by Jared Sullinger, Adreian Payne and a host of other high-major recruits. The Rising Stars followed that up with a thrashing of Nike Baltimore Elite, home to Memphis-commit Will Barton and Syracuse-bound C.J. Fair.

“We didn’t just want to beat All-Ohio,” Rice said. “We really wanted to get a TV game.”

Although the Rising Stars fell short of getting to the title game and playing on ESPNU, Rice’s excellent performance this summer has seen his interest rise considerably in the past couple of weeks.

Rice lists offers from Kent State, Ohio, Oregon State, Western Michigan, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Akron, Miami (Ohio), Nevada, DePaul, Drake, Saint Louis, Niagara and Detroit. He also says he is seeing interest from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Boston College, Missouri, Northwestern and Stanford.

“I plan on visiting Nevada, Drake and a couple of big schools,” Rice said, later mentioning Ohio as another possible visitation. “I want to go high-major, but it depends on the best situation for me.
I want it to have a good campus and a coach I can trust. I also am looking for playing time.”

Missouri is one of those “big schools” that is likely to receive more than a cursory look from this fast-rising guard.

“I like their program and campus,” Rice said. “I’m highly interested in Missouri. And my coach said they are highly interested in me so I’m planning on taking a visit there.

“I’m going to sit down with my mom to pick the schools I’m going to take my official visits to.”

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