Though most prospects from next month's forthcoming NBA Draft will have their first official opportunity to impress major executives next week at the Combine in Chicago, Glen Rice Jr. is sure to have a leg up on the competition.
That's because, unlike most of his fellow young guns, the son of the former NBA star participated in quite the extension prep course this past basketball season. Following his time at Georgia Tech, Rice Jr. found himself in the unique position of being able to catch on with a team from the NBA D-League.
Upon getting drafted by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the 2012 NBADL Draft last fall, minutes were a tad harder to come by than perhaps the swingman expected them to be. The minor league affiliate of the Houston Rockets, RGV found its roster filled with NBA caliber talents, as well as a couple of big league assignees.
But as the season progressed, Rice Jr. worked hard and began to earn favor with the Vipers' coaching staff as playing time became more available. Quickly emerging as a bit of an NBADL star, the swingman earned himself a "Top Performer of the Week" award en route to leading his team to a 15-2 record to finish off the regular season. Needless to say, he was stepping up to fill developing voids right in time for RGV's postseason run.
And in the playoffs is where Rice Jr. really shined. Free to explode onto the minor league scene with plenty of minutes on the hardwood to strut his stuff, the Georgia Tech product led the Rockets' affiliate to the minor league championship. He averaged 25 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals per contest through RGV's postseason run.
As previously reported, Rice Jr. will be able to enter this year's NBA Draft due to a unique technicality. Following his junior year at Georgia Tech, the swingman never declared for the draft as an early entry candidate. Thus, he is eligible to enter now instead.
With a season in the D-League under his belt, Rice Jr. will enter all the forthcoming draft workouts with a clear advantage. Not only will NBA executives already know him well from having a closer look at him through minor league competition, but the fact remains the young gun spent the year playing against a slew of NBA-ready talent and some actual assignees. No one in 2013's NBA Draft class is able to say the same.
Originally expected to turn up as a potential second round-pick next month, Rice Jr.'s NBADL championship title is helping him gain more serious consideration, perhaps as a first-rounder, or even a lottery pick instead.
Such consideration has been rightfully earned. NBA teams constantly assign their young guns to the D-League for more experience, gauging their readiness to eventually compete on the big league hardwood. If Rice Jr.'s recent success there is any indication, he may be poised to emerge as a promising rotation player come next season.
Though he'll compete in the NBA Draft Combine next week, it remains to be seen if Rice Jr. will also take part in this weekend's NBA D-League Elite Mini-Camp as well.