Sources: Rayvonte Rice commits to Illinois
CHAMPAIGN -- It didn't take long for Illinois basketball coach John Groce to add some talent to a roster low on numbers.
Former Champaign Centennial star Rayvonte Rice, a sophomore wing guard, committed to play at Illinois on Wednesday, recruiting sources said. The transfer from Drake was also recruited by Xavier and Marquette. Rice averaged 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. He shot 43 percent for the field and 24 percent from the 3-point line.
Rice - the state's Gatorade player of the year after his senior season at Centennial in 2009-10 - is a popular local star who also brings toughness, and he is expected to fill a void in scoring after the departure of Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson after their senior seasons next winter.
Rice must sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will be a key player on the practice court next winter. He gives the Illini 11 players on scholarship, two under the limit.
He started every game after the season opener last season and led Drake in scoring, steals and minutes while finishing second in rebounding. Rice led the Missouri Valley in steals at 1.9 per game, averaged the third in minutes played per game in the Valley (33.4) and ranked third in the league in scoring.
He averaged averaged 23.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 1.8 assists as a senior while leading Centennial to a fourth-place finish Class 3A state tournament after winning the title the previous season.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.