Rice is still team-minded
Former BC star trying to hook on
ORLANDO, Fla. — Tyrese Rice completely altered his identity on the basketball court his senior year at Boston College, and the thought was that even though it would help the Eagles, who made the NCAA Tournament in 2009, it would hurt Rice, who went undrafted.
His star couldn’t have been much brighter after his junior year, when he had a 46-point performance against North Carolina, although the Eagles lost by 10 points.
The next season, he was asked by then-coach Al Skinner to scale back his scoring to get a younger cast of teammates involved. His numbers slipped, but the wins piled up, including an 85-78 victory at No. 1 North Carolina in which Rice scored 25 points.
Rice spent the last year in Greece, running the point for Panionios in Athens. His first season overseas was an extension of the lessons he started his last year at BC, transforming from a one-man scoring spree into a teammate-minded floor general.
“Just trying to run a team,’’ said Rice, who played for the Utah Jazz summer league team this week. “I had to be more controlling. I couldn’t just go out there and just score, score, score.
“It taught me a lot. You know what it’s like to go out and get 30, 35, 40 on a night and lose rather than coming out, getting 15, 17, or 20 and winning. I would rather scale my numbers back and win than put up a huge number and lose any day.’’
Rice drew interest from the Jazz going into the 2009 NBA draft. They worked him out, but ultimately selected another Virginia-area point guard, Eric Maynor, who was traded to Oklahoma City early in the season. Scoring still comes naturally for Rice, who dropped 12 points in 13 minutes in Utah’s summer league opener against Charlotte. The emphasis at this stage is showing that he is skilled enough to run a team and tough enough to defend even though he’s undersized.
“He’s a true point guard,’’ said Jazz assistant Ty Corbin. “He’s tough. He makes good plays. He can come off the pick-and-roll. He’s a tenacious young guy and a tenacious small guy and that’s what he’s going to need for his size. You have to be [tough]. If you don’t have bulk and size, you have to be tough and smart, and I think he has that.’’
In 27 games in Greece, Rice averaged 11.7 points and 2.4 assists. After averaging 6 points in four games with the Jazz in Orlando, he went directly to the Las Vegas Summer League, where he’ll join the Sacramento Kings.