The fourth of the thus far five transfer portal additions for NC State basketball was Kansas freshman wing MJ Rice. The former five-star prospect and McDonald’s All-American averaged 2.2 points and 1.0 rebounds in 23 games for the Jayhawks last year.
TheWolfpacker.com reached out to Kansas beat writer Jordan Guskey of the Topeka Capital-Journal about Rice with five questions about the newest Wolfpack wing.
Five Questions With Jordan Guskey About MJ Rice
1. How would you describe MJ Rice’s game and his strengths and weaknesses?
Guskey: “I think he’s really athletic. I think when he’s given the freedom to create for himself offensively that there is a lot of potential there. Injuries plays a part in it, but defensively I think there were some struggles over the course of the season getting used to the D-1 level, playing the Big 12, playing for Bill Self.
“But I think overall there’s a lot to like about what MJ brings to the game if he could just realize that potential and become a better shooter. In time, I think he could be a really good addition playing for a power conference team.”
2. Kansas had a lot of good players that may have blocked Rice’s playing time last season. Why did he not consistently get playing time?
Guskey: “Fit plays a bit of a part in there, too. Also, as I mentioned, he was injured at different times. That wasn’t the whole story by any means, but it plays a part in that. The rotation that Kansas has especially in big games becomes pretty tight, as long as people stay out of foul trouble. MJ Rice was just on the wrong side of that …
“Do I think he could have been in the rotation had he been able to have a full year to develop, especially heading into next season? I think he could have. I think he has that potential, for sure. I don’t think that he’s not made for this level of basketball.
“I think there was a lot of different factors and because of how tight the rotation got at different times, it wasn’t going to be in the cards for him this season.”
3. NC State head coach Kevin Keatts is unafraid of playing 4 guards. What role do you think is best for Rice, and could he play in a small lineup?
Guskey: “I think a wing who is given the freedom to go for it himself. Sometimes that can come with mistakes, but a wing with the freedom to create and go for it is how I think offensively he can be.
“Defensively he has size. It’s not like he’s a smaller guard or anything like that, so he can work in a four-guard lineup as long as he continues to develop physically.”
4. What kind of role did you anticipate Rice would have played next season had he stayed at Kansas?
Guskey: “I don’t know if he would have started, especially with the ways things are shaking out for Kansas right now. There’s some uncertainty, but I think he could have definitely been in the rotation. Maybe not taking the second year jump that KJ [Adams Jr.] just did for Kansas, but he would be in that group that could take that next step along with Ernest [Udeh Jr.] … of that freshman class that is sticking around.
“I think there was a lot of potential for him to be in the rotation and then maybe as a junior, depending on how long he stayed in college, be a starter as well.”
5. What were the thoughts of Kansas fans on Rice while he was there and his decision to leave?
Guskey: “I think there was a lot of hope in the fan base for what Rice could be. Him and Gradey [Dick] were both 2 very highly touted freshmen coming in, so I think there was a lot of hope for what he could have been in coming into the season.
“In terms of his decision to leave, I think people understood. I don’t think there was any bad blood by any means with any of the guys who left the team this offseason. I think there’s an understanding that while he could have definitely earned a role for himself at Kansas, it might be better with how the roster coming together for him to find that future somewhere else, which he found at NC State.
“I think people wants to wish the best for him, no bad blood, it just didn’t work out at Kansas.”
The post Learning more about new NC State basketball wing MJ Rice appeared first on On3.