You are all aware who the father of the No. 35 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is. You also know how Glen Rice Jr. ended his freshman year at Georgia Tech on the All-Academic team, then, in the space of a few semesters, he'd received multiple suspensions for violations of team rules and thrown off the team following peripheral involvement in a gun-related incident. That should have been the end of his story, as far as professional basketball was concerned.
For most athletes, it would have been. The NBA is a league for freak athletes, but it takes more than the right physical tools to make it to The Show. Rice went on to finish the year at Georgia Tech. At this point, on the brink of his senior year, he faced a serious life decision.
Transfer to another D-I school was a possibility, Europe even. But what D-I school is going to feature a transfer senior with red flags looking to make it onto a GM's draft board at all costs? What prospect heads to Europe as a senior and gets drafted? If he were considering Europe at all, getting his degree first would have been a better road. Instead, he declared for the NBA D-League draft.
Rice fell all the way to the fourth round of the D-League draft, selected by the Rio Grande Vipers. Twenty-two games into the 50 game season, he'd played a hundred-odd minutes. He was adapting to a new playbook and undertaking an NBA-style strength program under the gun of the approaching NBA draft while waiting for a chance that might not come. I'm generally of the opinion (and hope, in this case) that such uncertainty demands personal growth and character.
Of course, Rice Jr. as a prospect dovetailed with the Wizards' perceived interest in ready-to-contribute players, the philosophy of swinging for the fences with high-upside players in the second round and the close watch the franchise has kept on the D-League in recent years. It might seem that the Wizards' attempt to muddy the waters with respect to their second-round picks was successful. But Rice Jr. could only arouse notice once injuries cleared the way for his play. And play he did.
I headed over to Ridiculous Upside to get their take on our newest second-round pick's game and season. From David Scrivines:
I'm a Glen Rice Jr. fan. I only saw him once in-person, but he performed real well that game. I believe it was one of his first starts of the season -- scored 35 points and had 15 rebounds. He was lights out from three; showed a bit of a mid-range game as well. Without doing much background work on him (but knowing some of the basic stuff about his prior history), I didn't have too much concerns about him. Several GM's asked my opinion on where I felt he should be drafted and I viewed him as a late first-rounder (25-30).
From Gino Pilato:
As you probably know, I (we) follow the D-League pretty closely over at RU, Rice Jr. didn't hit my radar until later in the season last year for obvious reasons (playing time). However, his lack of playing time early in the season was in large part due to the incredibly stacked roster that RGV had and carried throughout the season. They most certainly had the highest level of talent out of any NBADL team this past season.
Rice Jr. had to transition from the speed of the college game to the speed of the D-League which is a HUGE difference! I feel like that was something he worked on and it showed late in the season when he was more effective. He found a rhythm, and also spots on floor to enabled him success not only around the hoop, but also from long range. He figured out proper spacing which is a key element in the professional game as opposed to college.
He is a multi-skilled player offensively, he can shoot it obviously, but what impresses me is how reacts to contact and can finish around the hoop. Defensively, once again he had to adjust to the speed of the game as opposed to what he saw in college. From what I saw, he never was a liability later in the season defensively, and he picked up on head coach Nick Nurse's defensive schemes as the season progressed. RGV loved to get out and run, and he fit in with their high-powered offense, which was a product of their tenacity on defense.
As far as flaws go, I still think he needs more work on the basic fundamentals in set offensive formations. This will become even more important in Washington, but he has shown that he's a student of the game, so I'm confident he will pick things up fast. Obviously, there are the off-the-court issues in his past, has he matured and surpassed falling victim to these distractions? That's hard to say and I can't answer that. You mentioned a strong locker room in Wash, I think that will decide his future honestly, if he can latch on with one or two veterans, that will be huge for him!
In the end, it makes a funny kind of sense that the son of a former NBA player could trailblaze a path from college trouble to the D-League to the NBA. There's a load of road left to travel, a lot of growing up to do for Glen Rice Jr. His chances have been steadily improving since he left Georgia Tech and with the strong locker room in D.C., he's got as good a chance as any second-round pick to stick in this league.