Future Drake Bulldog guard/forward Rayvonte Rice of Centennial High School (Champaign, IL) was named the Gatorade Illinois Boys Basketball Player of the Year on Mar. 18.
The award focuses on "outstanding athletic excellence" as well as "high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court," according to a release from Gatorade.
Drake is no doubt proud to land a commitment from Rice, who with this award also received a nomination for the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year award.
Brandon Knight of Pine Crest School (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) would later take home that honor.
Former players who have won the national award include Chris Paul (2002-03), Kevin Garnett (1992-93), Chauncey Billups (1993-94 and 1994-95), Jason Kidd (1991-92), Paul Pierce (1994-95), and Chris Bosh (2001-2002).
However, just by receiving the Illinois award Rice joins some fine company himself.
Recent winners of the Illinois award include Matt Vogrich (2008-09), Michael Dunigan (2008-07), and Derrick Rose (2006-07), though he may not have lived up to the award's non-athletic standards during his time attending the University of Memphis.
Rice, who stands at 6'3'' and at 220 pounds, averaged 24 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 1.8 assists at shooting guard for the Chargers.
Rice led the chargers (31-2) to the Class 3A state semifinals before losing to Hillcrest 49-42 on Mar. 19.
The Hawks' defense was too much for the Chargers, holding them to their lowest offensive output of the season, but they couldn't contain Rice. He finished with a game-high 20 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals.
Hillcrest, led by senior guard Eric Gaines' 17 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, would go on to win the Class 3A state championship.
(Check out the Chicago Tribune's photos from the game .)
The Associated Press recently named Rice to its all-tournament team for Class 3A. He finished second in the voting behind Gaines, who plans on attending Kent State next year for basketball.
But Rice is no stranger to Gaines' recent success.
In his junior season, Rice averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals, and 2.4 steals per game. He was named the state championship game's Most Valuable Player, as he boosted Centennial in its title run.
Loren Tate of IlliniHQ.com and the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette says in a post that some observers have taken to calling Rice a "tweener" with no real position because of his large size for a guard. Tate says Rice simply claims he has the size to overtake smaller guards.
But Tate isn't friendly to Drake. Read what he had to say about Rice, according to Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star .
According to Wessler, Rice says he "didn't want to be anybody's second thought."
Reading between the lines: Sit down and shut your mouth, Tate.
Drake will provide a lot of immediate opportunities for Rice that he wouldn't find at Illinois.
Centennial head coach Tim Lavin told Gatorade:
"He presents such a mismatch defensively for almost any opponent. He is 6'3'' and one of the better ball-handlers around. If teams put a smaller, quicker guard on him, he can post them up and score at will from inside. If they put a big man on him, he can score from the outside. He is also deceptively quick and can get by defenders. His explosiveness off the floor has created several highlight-reel quality dunks this season and last. Defensively, he has long arms and quick hands that lead to about three steals a game."
With a testimony like that, it's no wonder Rice has silenced many of his critics.
The Bulldogs could use a tough defender and somebody who isn't afraid to dunk the ball—a rarity in Des Moines these days.
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Here's a quick video showcasing Rice and the talents he will provide for Drake.
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