Rayvonte Rice a Hometown Hero

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61 to 59 read the scoreboard, as players and coaches celebrated Champaign-Centennials first ever-state championship. Centennial legend, Rayvonte Rice, walked off the court smiling, he had just scored 21 points, in the biggest game of his life. Rice was named the tournament’s MVP, and wanted to repeat this title run next year as a senior.

Although Rice, a highly acclaimed Illinois high school player, fell short of repeating his Junior year’s magical state championship run. He was still a first team all-stater, the runner up in the 2010 Mr. Basketball contest, the leading scorer in Centennial history, and a highly ranked recruit within the state.

A legendary Champaign kid, heading off to his state school, Illinois, seemed to fit perfectly, but that was not the case.

“I was never really recruited by Illinois until the end of my recruitment which stung, but I was already committed to Drake. I wasn’t going to back out of that commitment,“ said Rice.

So Drake it was. 358 miles, a couple of states away, and five hours from home, was where Rice was heading.

The former Drake basketball manager, Trygve Jensen, was excited to see what Rice could bring to Drake.

“I’d seen Tre (that was the name he went by) play in high school and he was a very strong guy,” Jensen said. “He could body up and get himself places, he also wasn’t afraid to chuck up a shot.”

But initially, something did not seem right about Rice and Drake.

“Rice didn’t fully fit in. I don’t think it was a race thing, but Drake is predominately white and upper-middle class kids from the suburbs,” Jensen Said. “Tre was from middle-America and had a different upbringing than most.”

Maybe Rice had mad a mistake when deciding where to go to college. Maybe he should...

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“This is his fourth year in college basketball, he is absolutely a leader on this team. He understands how things go,” Egwu said. “We look forward to have him teach us new things. He is a huge part of the team.”

Though college basketball consumes Rice’s life now, he cannot help but look ahead down the road.

“I am not really sure where I’ll be in a few years from now, I hope I am playing somewhere professionally, but we will see,” Rice said.

Though Rice has the skill set to make it professionally, there are those who view Rice differently.

“I don’t think Rice could play in the NBA. He’s at an awkward size where he lacks quickness and ball handling of a 2 and athletic ability of a 3,” Jensen said. “I didn’t think he worked hard enough on his own, but coach Groce seems to be really pushing him, so it’ll be interesting to see what type of profession he has.”
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