It may seem like it these days, but the N in NBA doesn’t stand for nepotism. Glen Rice Jr. may have a more prestigious hoops background, but the former Yellow Jacket guard has paid his dues.
His rocky path to the Draft hasn’t been paved with accolades or pre-draft hype like fellow second-generational stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Glen Rice was a better pro than Dell Curry or Mychal Thompson, but for a while it appeared the apple had fallen miles away from the tree.
But if you’re focusing on his genetics, you’re missing the point. The NBA Developmental League is the same training ground for prospects that slipped through cracks. Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, Chris Andersen, Danny Green and Gary Neal matriculated through the D-League, but Rice may be the most highly sought after one yet. The the Developmental League’s superior talents don’t stay long, but if Rice goes in the first 30 picks, he’ll be the first D-League player to graduate to first round pick.
Instead of teaming up with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson Jr., Rice Jr.’s career strayed away from Michigan and rolled down South to Georgia Tech. Since then, it’s been an uphill battle that culminated with his dismissal from Tech before latching onto the D-League. Glen Rice is his father, but Jr. is a poster child of the D-League.
In the D-League, Rice Jr. developed better focus while becoming a strong catch-and-jump shooter from downtown. Rice isn’t as automatic from three as his dad, but he is an extremely athletic finisher at the rim with a 40-inch vertical that shows up on film.
While his dad copped a national championship at Michigan pre-Fab 5, Rice Jr. averaged a paltry 9.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for a middling ACC program. Rice Jr. also looked much more comfortable dominating second-tier adult D-League competition than he did in college. After logging DNP’s early in the season, injuries pushed Rice Jr. into the starting lineup where he made his own name by leading Rio Grande Valley to the league championship with averages of 25 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in the postseason.
Rice Jr.’s D-League career is one-and-done, but NBA teams aren’t concerned with what his dad did 20 years ago,. They want to know whether Rice Jr. can make a similar impact in the immediate future. Some coaches have already caught on, but Rice’s success will go a long way towards further building the D-League’s rep as a talent pipeline and creating a separate legacy for Rice Jr. from his dad’s.