Summer League Spotlight: Opportunity Knocks For Glen Rice Jr.

During Samsung NBA Summer League, will profile several of the NBA D-League's top alums.

LAS VEGAS -- P.J. Hairston’s path to the NBA Draft was one of the biggest storylines of the 2013-14 NBA D-League season. But without Glen Rice Jr. being one of the ones to pave the way and prove the NBA D-League is a reliable route for draft-eligible enter the NBA, Hairston might not have ever chosen to join the Texas Legends after leaving the University of North Carolina.

Of course, it was Rice who spent the 2012-13 season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers before being drafted No. 35 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft and joining the Washington Wizards.

Rice is glad he could set the table for Hairston.

“I heard that P.J. was thinking about coming through the D-League like I did,” Rice said. “I knew that he was a good player and he went out there and did what he was supposed to do for the Legends. That’s why he went in the first round. He deserved it.”

Hairston is just beginning his NBA journey, but Rice has a year of NBA experience under his belt and it is showing at the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In the Wizards’ first game against the Atlanta Hawks, Rice finished with 22 points while making 14 out of 16 free throws, including the conversion of three and-1 plays.

“In our pre-Summer League training camp Coach Sam [Cassell] and Al [Harrington] told me to go out there and attack and be aggressive,” Rice said. “So today I just stayed aggressive attacking the rim and tried not to settle for the three-point shot, and it paid off. I got to the free throw line, and it doesn’t get too much easier than a free throw.”

While Rice was having his breakout game, news broke that Rice’s (now former) teammate Trevor Ariza agreed to a 4-year deal with the Houston Rockets. Postgame, the news came as a shock to Rice and the Wizards.

“I just heard about Trevor leaving for Houston after the game,” he said.

Rice was disappointed to see Ariza go, but he was also happy for him and won’t forget the lessons Ariza instilled in him as a rookie.

“He was definitely a mentor for me all of last year,” Rice said of Ariza. “The main thing he taught me was work ethic. Before practice. After practice. He was always putting in hard work and that’s why he was successful.”

“On the other hand, it is going to give me a little bit more of an opportunity so I just have to take what he taught me last year and do it this upcoming season.”

If Rice needed anymore motivation to perform and improve this summer, he just got it in the form of available minutes on the wing if the Wizards need help filling the void left by Ariza.