The concept of aspiring NBA players using the D-League as their platform to eventually break into The Association is well known and documented. There are an array of promising prospects out there on the cusp of sneaking on to a big league roster, simply using the minor league hardwood as their stage to shine on.
But for just about every NBADL player, they've ventured to the D-League in order to prove their worth, because it's likely they've otherwise failed to so previously in the NBA.
Circumstances for former Georgia Tech stud Glen Rice Jr. of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, however, are a tad bit different than those of his many fellow prospects.
The guard was dismissed from the college's sports program last year for disciplinary (not academic) reasons, but after finishing his junior year, sought out a second chance in the NBA D-League.
It's been there that Rice Jr. has slowly been steadily and surely emerged as one of the league's top rising stars. The guard worked his way up from the bottom, having only played sparingly in the season's first few weeks after being selected by RGV in last fall's NBADL Draft.
But the son of three-time NBA All-Star Glen Rice has since become a key contributor for the Vipers, who after securing the second seed in the NBADL are currently competing in the playoffs.
The youngster may have only averaged 13 points and 6.2 rebounds on the season (42 games) for RGV, but his impact has been felt much more (in a positive way) over the course of the team's final two months.
After emerging as a starter in March, Rice Jr. went on to boast very solid credentials over the next six weeks. In addition to averaging 18.2 points and 8 rebounds over that very span, he also earned himself an "NBADL Top Performer of the Week" award in the early goings, and helped the Vipers finish the season strong with a 15-2 record in March and April.
Perhaps first garnering some attention for his flashy athleticism, Rice Jr. participated in the D-League's Boost Mobile Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. It was after his high-flying display that the guard emerged as more of a go-to-guy for his team, developing a nice shooting stroke, similar to that of his father. Rice Jr. recently poured in 27 points in the Vipers' first playoff victory earlier this week.
Most NBADL players only crave the type of success the guard has experienced as of late. There's no doubt such a string of strong performances could endear one's self to any number of NBA teams down the stretch.
As fate would have it, Rice Jr. isn't necessarily looking to play his way into earning that oh so coveted ten-day contract from an NBA team. Instead, he's hoping to continue turning heads as a way of helping his stock in upcoming NBA Draft rise.
That's right: Rice Jr. is set to enter this coming June's NBA Draft, and his steady play as a minor league stud is helping him emerge as quite the potential sleeper.
As a rule, any player who didn't finish his collegiate career and never declared for the NBA Draft as an early entry candidate is eligible to be drafted, regardless of where they played following their collegiate career.
This, of course, includes and applies to Rice Jr. full-heartedly.
Just as past NBA veterans looking to get back use the D-League as their platform for a second chance, Rice Jr. has chosen to do so too, but under very different circumstances.
Instead of entering the NBA Draft following a less than stellar (to say the least) end to his career at Georgia Tech, Rice Jr. should by now have earned himself kudos in a number of different ways by embarking on a season in the D-League.
Not only has he been able to thrive while showcasing his talents against near NBA-ready players in the minors, but he's also proven to be quite the resilient son of a gun, too. He's parlayed the negative end of one experience into the utmost positive of another. The guard's skills alone should be enough to garner draft consideration from NBA executives, but what he's able been able to do, given his circumstances, should catch others' attention due to his ability to persevere.