Q&A: Nick Nurse discusses Glen Rice Jr's game, demeanor and more

USA TODAY Sports

Nick Nurse was Glen Rice Jr's coach for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season. He took some time to talk to Bullets Forever about Rice's development, personality and more.

LAS VEGAS -- In February, Glen Rice Jr. was barely playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Developmental League. A few months later, he was the team's leading scorer in the playoffs as they won the D-League championship. It was such rapid progress that Rice's coach, Nick Nurse, told Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he'd never seen a younger player grow faster.

Nurse is now an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors. I had a chance to catch up with him following the Raptors' Summer League victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

BF: I read that you said Glen developed faster than anyone you had seen in your years of coaching. In what ways did he develop so quickly?

NN: Well, part of it was, this was in February or late January, he went from not playing to being the leading scorer in the Finals. That's a pretty short window for any rookie to do in the D-League. The biggest thing was he really figured out how we wanted him to play and learning how to fit in that role.

BF: Were you surprised that he went the D-League route?

NN: It's funny you said that. Somebody was discussing with me last night, and he said, 'If Glen Rice didn't have those issues at Georgia Tech, he would have been a first-round pick. But somebody else at the table said, 'You know what? He may not have surfaced at all out of there.' So going [the D-League] route with everything that happened to him and whatever, it may have been better for him anyway.

BF: Did you ever talk to him about the Georgia Tech stuff?

NN: Nope.

BF: I know he doesn't like to talk about it much. Was that part of the reason you also didn't want to talk to him about it?

NN: Yeah, I think, from my standpoint, this wasn't really rocket science or anything like that. My goal was, I wanted to go to him and say, 'I don't care about any of that stuff. All I care about is what you do for this team. That's it.'

BF: Was there anything about him as a person that you weren't expecting?

He's an awesome kid. He's awesome. He's fun to coach, he's competitive, his teammates like him. He's awesome.-Nick Nurse on Glen Rice Jr.

NN: He's an awesome kid. He's awesome. He's fun to coach, he's competitive, his teammates like him. He's awesome.

BF: So you weren't surprised by him as a person?

NN: Oh no, I was super surprised that the issues were there. After I've had him now, I'm super surprised that happened, or whatever happened.

BF: I understand you spent a lot of time working on his skills. What kinds of things did you work on with him?

NN: We tried to smooth out his shot, just a more fluid motion. We also worked a lot on his ability to attack the basket, Eurostep, slowing down, moving side to side, putting the ball on the floor, a lot of that. He's a really good finisher at the basket, but those are the few things we worked on. Also, his defense.

BF: Yeah, that's the one thing a lot of Wizards coaches have said that he's got to work on. What do you think he's got to improve specifically there?

NN: Well, I think he's better than people think he is. Athletically, he moves quirkily, quirky-looking, but he's fine. For me, I think he kept people in front of him pretty good. I know he's going up a level, so you always need to keep improving.

BF: Do you think more people are going to go the D-League route after how he did?

NN: I think it may raise the profile of going that route. I don't know if anyone will actually go by [that way]. But I don't think most people are aware you can even do that. Now, they're aware.

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