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Flying Eagles

Posted by Ed Ryan February 19, 2009 05:54 AM

These are great days to be Tyrese Rice. The Boston College senior point guard is coming off a memorable home win over Duke, he's likely to earn all-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors for the second straight season, and he just eclipsed 2,000 career points, an impressive feat accomplished by just six Eagles before him.

With the NCAA tournament in BC’s sights and just a handful of college games remaining, Rice has an opportunity to leave the Heights on a high note. If he can lead this BC squad, which was picked to finish 11th in the ACC, to an NCAA bid, Rice will be hailed as the major reason.

But by early April at the latest, Rice’s college career will be over. And despite his high profile and despite the accolades and despite the number of times he’s been on television, Rice will be like thousands of other members of the class of 2009. He’ll be looking for a job.

Rice’s first “application” will be with the NBA, and if history is an indicator, he has a chance to make it. Over the past 30 years, BC has produced an impressive group of point guards, and five have gone on to play in the NBA: John Bagley, Michael Adams, Dana Barros, Howard Eisley, and Troy Bell.

Bagley, who played at BC for three years (1979-1982), spent 11 seasons in the NBA and finished with averages of 8.7 points and 6.0 assists per game. A big scorer, Adams played one season at BC with Bagley and four overall (1981-1985) before compiling nine seasons and career averages of 14.7 ppg and 6.4 apg in the NBA.

Local product Barros arrived in Chestnut Hill just after Adams departed and had a stellar 14-year NBA career after amassing 2,342 career points as an Eagle. One year after Barros departed BC, Eisley arrived (1990-1994); he helped lead BC to the ’94 Elite Eight and had a solid 12-year NBA career, the bulk of which was spent backing up John Stockton in Utah.

Most recently, Bell, BC’s all-time leading scorer (2,632 points), was drafted 16th overall in 2003. Knee injuries limited him to just a six-game NBA career.

Which brings us back to Rice (below), the latest link to these tremendous players. Is Rice an NBA player? Will he be drafted? Who does he compare to?

The website nbadraft.net compares Rice to Cleveland’s Mo Williams and projects Rice as a second-round draft pick (40th overall). Size-wise, it’s a fair comparison. Both Williams and Rice are listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds (although for Rice, 6-1 may be generous). Another comparison: Eddie House, the 6-1, 180-pound designated shooter for the Celtics.

Rice is a feared scorer who is more accurate shooting when his feet are set than when he’s on the move (coming around screens or off the dribble). He’s quick and is an excellent ballhandler, but poor decision-making has led to many turnovers during his career. He’s also appeared, at times, to be an indifferent defender.

Ultimately, Rice is on the fringe of the NBA and could fall either way. When his college career is complete, he will have to prove to the executives that he can lead a team, instead of just leading a team in scoring. No NBA team is going to need Rice to score 20 points per night. If he makes “the league,” it will be because someone is willing to take a shot that he can be a backup point guard or a House-style specialist.

Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com

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