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Spotlight: Glen Rice, Jr.

Proving that one’s past doesn’t have to define their future, Glen Rice, Jr. has learned from his mistakes and is ready to contribute to an NBA team. 

The 22-year-old son of former NBA All-Star Glen Rice, Sr., he grew up surrounded by the game of basketball. A graduate of Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia, he was named the 2008 Cobb County Player of the Year by the Marietta Daily Journal as a junior. That summer, he committed to Georgia Tech.

As a freshman, Rice Jr. initially took a backseat to several upperclassmen swingmen on the Yellow Jackets’ roster, but was able to work his way into the starting lineup for the school’s final 11 games of the 2009-10 season, averaging 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in those games.

In his sophomore year, he started 31 games and ranked second on his team in points (12.8), rebounds (5.6), assists (2.5), and steals (1.5). 

Rice Jr.’s junior season, though, did not follow that same upward trajectory. 

After averaging 13.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals through the first 21 games of the 2011-12 season, his basketball world came crashing down. In March of 2012, he was involved in a criminal incident outside of an Atlanta nightclub. The subject of various off-the-court issues before this occurance, Rice Jr. was dismissed from Georgia Tech.

“I’ve made some mistakes in the past,” Rice Jr. told reporters at the combine of the incident. “I’ve owned them, I’ve learned from them, and that’s the biggest thing, that I’ve learned from them. I’ve matured as a man and that’s behind me.”

According to CBS Sports, Rice Jr. was regarded as a top-20 potential transfer in the nation following his dismissal. But transferring to another Division I school would mean sitting out a year, and that was something the 6’6” forward was unwilling to do. So he took a leap of faith and entered his name in the NBA Development League Draft pool. 

“I looked at a couple of other schools,” he. said. “I even thought about Division II, but really, I just didn’t want to have to sit out the whole year. I’d been working on the court still, and I felt like I was ready to play. I didn’t know how much a year of sitting out would have helped me.” 

Selected in the fourth round of the D-League Draft by the Rio Grande Vipers, Rice Jr.’s gamble paid off. 

The Vipers play in Hidalgo, Texas, and in 2009, established a single-partnership affiliation agreement with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets control the Vipers’ basketball operations, while the franchise remains under local ownership by Alonzo Cantu. 

Coincidently, new Sixers President and GM Sam Hinkie was the Assistant General Manager of the Rockets during Rice Jr.’s time as a Viper. 

Although Rice Jr. was a raw player compared to the more veteran members of the D-League, he was able to make the team’s opening day roster; minutes, though, were scarce early in the season.

“When I got [to the D-League], not playing made me realize that I still had work to do,” he said. “I had to humble myself and just went out there and worked, kept grinding, waited for the opportunity that came, and took advantage of it.”

In February of this year, his hard work paid off. He was promoted to the starting lineup and immediately turned heads, averaging 18.0 points (56.0 FG%, 43.0 3P%), 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in the final 25 games of the season after being inserted into the starting lineup.

A participant in the 2013 D-League Dream Factory Dunk Contest and a member of the league’s All-Rookie Team, Rice Jr. led the Vipers to three consecutive playoff series sweeps and a championship, averaging an incredible 25.0 points (47.3 FG%, 36.4 3P%), 9.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.5 blocks, and 3.0 steals in the 2013 postseason.

One of the few players in this year’s class with experience playing professionally, Rice Jr. feels as if he’s at an advantage.

“It gives me more confidence just for the simple fact that I’ve been playing against professionals,” he said. “I did pretty well out there. It makes me feel like my game is going to translate more to the NBA level than you might see from the college guys because we have the NBA rules, the NBA three-point line, and just better guys.”

Rice Jr.’s performance last season helped him rise from likely undrafted free agent to potential first-round pick. If this were to happen, he would become the first D-League player to go in round one of the parent league’s draft.

“I’m used to it,” he said, when asked about the NBA attention he’s garnered as of late. “Seeing all the GMs and scouts around. It’s a good feeling that I’m here. That all my hard work has paid off, and I get to come out and showcase what I’ve been working on for the past year.”

With the reality of the NBA so close, Glen Rice, Jr. will soon be able to move on from his turbulent past and start fresh.

For an in-depth look at this year's draft, including dynamic prospect profiles, frequently updated rankings, mock drafts from around the web, and more, check out the 2013 SIXERS.COM DRAFT CENTER