- Measurables: 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, small forward from the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers via Georgia Tech
- Key Stats: 13.0 points, 1.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds per game; shot 49 percent overall and 39 percent from three-point range
- Projected: Second round
I’m rooting for Glen Rice Jr. to succeed in the NBA for several reasons, not least of which is his father is one of the greatest players the state of Michigan has ever produced. But aside from the fact that Rice Jr. has a famous dad who I loved watching, aside from the fact that he’s a great redemption story after getting kicked off of Georgia Tech’s team, he also represents a chance to bust the myth that the NCAA should not be automatically considered the best proving ground for NBA players.
Rice was an elite prospect in high school. He went to a middling (or some would say bad) program at Georgia Tech. He got into trouble off the court — telling Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress he was hanging out with the wrong crowds and wrong people. Rice spent three years at Georgia Tech, was undisciplined and, although he certainly wasn’t a bad player, he also didn’t look like a legit NBA prospect before he was kicked out of the program.
In the D-League with Rio Grande, Rice matured both as a player and a person. He was held to standards expected of NBA athletes. He had to earn his way into the rotation on a good team. And ultimately, he led that team to a championship with an amazing playoff performance — averaging 25 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game for Rio Grande in their playoff run.
The right college program can do wonders for players with professional aspirations. But going to a program that doesn’t help a player grow personally or athletically can also be detrimental. Rice’s problems at Georgia Tech were attributable to his own questionable decision-making, but once he got into an environment that was structured and expected him to be disciplined and committed and held him to that standard, he thrived. That’s certainly possible in the NCAA with some programs. But Rice could also shed light on the fact that the D-League could also prove to be a viable alternative for players with pro aspirations who might not be getting what they need from a college program.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Rice, who is projected to go in the early second round, has skills that would be great fits for the Pistons. He’s a strong, athletic wing player and he inherited his father’s sweet shooting stroke. He’s also a good rebounder and strong enough to become a quality NBA defensive player.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
The Pistons do have other recent second round prospects at small forward who have shown varying levels of promise in Kyle Singler and Khris Middleton. If the Pistons are sold on either or both of those players as potential rotation players next season, adding a third second round prospect at the same position who needs minutes to develop is probably out of the question. Also, after initial excitement about Rice’s potential based on his D-League playoff run boosted his stock, his so-so performance at the combine cooled it some.
Still, if Rice is available when the Pistons pick in the second round, he’s the only non-international prospect in this draft who is proven at the professional level. Increasingly, D-League players have made positive contributions to NBA teams, so his production for Rio Grande is a definite major selling point to give him a look.
From the Experts:
We put Rice in our top 30 several months ago after he started getting more minutes in the D-League and broke loose. It wasn’t a fluke. Rice led the Rio Grande Vipers to the D-League championship, scoring 25 PPG in the finals. He’s a bit of a tweener, but he has NBA athleticism, can really shoot the basketball and is an excellent rebounder for his size. Most importantly, in the D-League he excelled at a high level among elite college players and former NBA rotation guys.
Like his father, Rice’s most attractive skill lies in his jump-shot, which he’s honed into an extremely dangerous weapon as of late. Only shooting 30 and 33% from beyond the arc as a sophomore and junior at Georgia Tech, Rice has been absolutely deadly this season from the perimeter for the Vipers, making 39% of his overall attempts on the season, despite having to transition to the much further NBA 3-point line that the D-League plays with. He’s deadly with his feet set and is capable of coming off screens or shooting off the dribble, showing consistent mechanics, a quick release, and deep range, sometimes making shots from a few feet beyond the NBA line even, and looking effortless when doing so.
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