June 29, 2011
For a guy with a snarling bulldog tattooed on his chest and "Drake Bulldogs, No. 24" inked on his right leg, Rayvonte Rice sounds surprisingly noncommittal about finishing his college career at the school.
Rice, one of the Missouri Valley Conference's top freshmen last year, addressed speculation that he's considering a transfer, telling the Des Moines Register on Monday that he intends to stay at Drake — at least for now.
"A lot of sports guys, web site guys from Chicago, keep calling me asking me if I'm going to transfer," Rice said. "I'm telling them, 'I'm at Drake now, so obviously if I would have wanted to leave I would have left. I'm committed to Drake right now.'"
"I mean, I can't say what's going to happen in the future. I don't have plans on leaving, but like I said, things change. I'm at Drake right now."
Although Rice didn't expand on those comments, it doesn't take much guesswork to figure out that the 6-foot-4 wing wants to see Drake make big strides next season before he'll commit to more than another year at the school. The Bulldogs finished 13-18 last season and dropped their final two games of the season to last-place Bradley by a combined 41 points, but they do return all but one player on last year's roster.
There's no doubt Rice would draw plenty of interest from high-major programs were he ever to decide to leave Drake. The Champaign, Ill. native averaged a team-high 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman at Drake, though his 29.5 percent 3-point shooting is an area of his game with room for improvement.
One potential destination for Rice would be Xavier, which recently hired the assistant coach who recruited him to Drake. Illinois passed on the late-blooming Rice in high school, but it's possible the Illini wouldn't want to risk making the same mistake twice on a hometown kid who grew up rooting for them.
But for now, Rice is at Drake. Good thing too because tattoo removal surgery isn't cheap.