Photo courtesy of Hoop Group.
By David Cordova
When you’re the son of a respected coach and/or player, a lot is expected of you. They expect you to be very good and they expect you to work hard. For Alexander Rice, the truth is that he does both things efficiently. All because it is ingrained in his DNA.
The 6-foot-2 junior guard out of Mater Dei Prepatory School in Middletown, New Jersey, has been battle-tested and has learned the finer points of the game from none other than his father, King Rice, the head coach at Monmouth University and the legendary point guard who played collegiately at the University of North Carolina from 1987 to 1991.
While with the Tar Heels, the elder Rice established himself as one of the best point guards in the country, handing out 629 assists, which is third on the all-time assist list in UNC history, and he also led them to 1991 NCAA Final Four as a senior.
The younger Rice sees his dad as an inspiration. “A lot of people know my dad and know his story, so just to live up to his expectations, because he has big shoes to fill. So that motivates me to work hard and be like him.”
When asked what it was like to have King Rice for a dad, Alexander replied, “It feels great. He’s a great motivational person, we’re in the gym all the time working out. He obviously has a lot of connections, so that helps me out and he’s great dad, on & off the court.
Alexander has some great skills on the court. He’s a silent assassin, which means that he can do damage to a defense without saying a word. When asked about what type of player he sees himself as, he replied, “I think I’m a smart point guard who can really shoot, get his teammates involved. I’m still working on my defense, but just overall pretty good shooter, improving ball-handler and playmaker.”
Rice first started out high school at the legendary St. Anthony High School in the downtown section of Jersey City, New Jersey, for Hall of Fame coach, Bob Hurley. Last year, he averaged 11.2 points per game for the Friars as a sophomore, as he led them to a 23-6 overall record and an appearance in the North Jersey Non-Public B championship game against Hudson Catholic, where they would lose to crosstown rival Hudson Catholic on March 8th.
That game would also be the school’s final game in its history. Unfortunately, after years of financial debt, the school closed in June.
When asked about playing for a powerhouse like St. Anthony and a legend like Coach Hurley, Rice replied, “It was great, I learned a lot as a player and getting better as a person. It helped me a lot.”
On the school’s closing, he added: “I was really disappointed because I put a lot into it and I know all of the people, especially Coach Hurley, put their lives into the school, so it was pretty upsetting, but I’m glad that I got to be a part of it.”
Now, he’s at a new situation in Central Jersey. Mater Dei Prep, a program on the rise plays in the Shore B Conference and went 25-4 last season, before losing to eventual Tournament of Champions winner, the Patrick School. When asked about how he likes his new home before, he replied, “It’s good so far, still getting used to all my teachers and the new school, but it’s a lot closer and less of a commute, I’m still getting used to all my teammates. I like it a lot so far.”
This summer, Rice played on the Under Armour Association circuit with We R 1 and ended up as the second-leading scorer on their 16U squad. “It was really good, a lot of exposure, you know, all of our games were packed with coaches and fans at games and stuff, and we were really good. We made it all the way to the Under Armour championship, so it was a really fun experience.”
As far as his college recruitment, Rice says he has nine offers. Amongst the schools that are interested in him are Ivy League schools such as Yale, Princeton, UPenn and Tulane. But there were two schools in particular that he would love to go to.
“Well, my favorite schools, I would love to play for my dad, wherever he’s at, and then I like Stanford a lot, just because I’m from California originally, and we have family out there and then UNC, ’cause not only my dad went there and played basketball, but my mom was a star volleyball player there, so there’s a big legacy there and I’ve been going there since I can remember.”
Now that his junior year is coming up, expect for Rice to have a big impact for Mater Dei and also to increase his offers, as well. “As a team, just a lot of good basketball, working together, moving the ball. Individually, just making a whole bunch of plays, getting my teammates involved first, and hopefully a whole lot of buckets, too.
And his future plans? “Hopefully, go to a really good college for four years to get my education first and then see where this game will take me.”
Highlights of Alexander Rice:
Courtesy of Shore Sports Network.
Courtesy of Jersey Sports Zone.