Coming off an ACC Tournament championship winning season, the Virginia Tech Hokies will look to reload the roster with a talented recruiting class heading into the 2022-23 season. Currently, Virginia Tech is ranked 29th nationally and 8th in the ACC in terms of the 2022 high school class rankings. This is certainly a rebound from last year’s class which mainly featured Sean Pedulla and was ranked 13rd in the ACC.
The gem of this year’s class so far is the 6’4'', 185-pound combo guard Rodney Rice out of DeMatha Catholic high school in Clinton, Maryland. Rice is a four-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports, ESPN, and Rivals. 24/7 has him ranked as the 51st best prospect in the entire class. He’s a top eight combo guard and the third highest ranked player out of the state of Maryland.
Rice is also the third highest recruit in Virginia Tech men’s basketball history behind Dorian Finney-Smith and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. With his pedigree coming out of high school, there’s no doubt Rice can provide an instant impact to the Hokies.
Three Point Shooting
There’s no sugarcoating it, Rodney Rice can flat out shoot the basketball from long range. This is by far the most intriguing part of his game. Rice has a smooth shooting form with rock solid mechanics and a picture perfect follow through on his jumper. As the clips show, Rice can shoot it in a variety of different ways.
First, we see his ability to shoot it off movement. Rice can come off a screen and get into his shooting motion comfortably. It will be massive for Mike Young to have a young player that he can run inbounds plays for.
In the next clip, Rice is spotting up for a three and cashes it from the corner. There’s nothing special about this play but it’s a good example of his consistent shooting stroke.
Here’s a play that really stands out. Rice has a side ball screen coming for him on the right wing. He fakes his defender like he’s going baseline and takes one left handed dribble before shooting from long range. This shows Rice’s fearlessness to take high difficulty shots and his deep range will translate to college ball.
Rice is far from just a standstill shooter from the wings and corners. He has the ability to pull up and knock down tough shots from deep range as well. Here we see Rodney go left on a screen. His primary defender sags off him and goes under the screen which is a fatal mistake when guarding Rodney Rice. He nails the jumper with the primary defender going under the screen and the screener's defender dropping too low to effectively contest.
This clip shows more of Rice’s incredible shooting range and confidence to pull-up in any situation. He’s operating with the ball in his hands in transition. After crossing the logo, he decides to pull from a few feet behind the college arc and slashes the jumper. Rice also got fouled while shooting the three which he’s good at doing at the high school level.
From the few games I’ve watched of Rodney Rice, he seems like a capable off-the-dribble scorer. To start off, Rice rejects the screen to blow by his defender with a left to right crossover. Then, he decelerates into a mid-range hit that gets a friendly bounce from the rim. Rice did a great job of creating space by shifting speeds from fast to slow.
Speaking of changing speeds, look how Rice lulls his defender to sleep with some slow, between-the-legs crossover dribbles. Then, he proceeds to hit him with a quick left to right cross.
I love how Rice picks up his dribble right before the defender tries to reach in for a steal. That shows awareness and IQ on the part of Rice. He finishes the play off with a pretty extension finish with some hangtime over a taller defender while taking some contact.
This play is run in typical college and even NBA offenses. It’s a double screen (labeled double drag in the NBA) to get Rice driving into the middle of the floor. Rice uses the two screens to gain an advantage and gets two defenders to bite on a nasty hesitation fake. Hesitation moves are key for a young guard without high level athleticism to master.
Here we see more of Rice’s dribble packages that he has in his toolbelt. He has a smaller defender on him so decides to go with an in and out dribble into a behind-the-back move. Then, he takes one more dribble before popping into the jumper. RIce also sells contact very well once again.
I like how Rice initially stunts over and then recovers back to his man. He then helps cut off a drive. Finally, his man tries to cut back door on him, but Rice is able to shut that down by tracking him well off the ball and denying any entry pass for a layup.
Rice makes good use of his active hands on this play. Jarring the ball loose from the opponent while not reaching in too much to the point where he fouled him. The play even results in a turnover as a result of Rice’s heads up thinking and instincts.
In this play, Rice is nearly screened out of the action but uses his high basketball IQ to force his way back onto his man. He’s almost back screened off his man but notices him cut along the baseline and is able to meet his man at the point. From there, Rice plays great defense in the post and contests a miss jump shot.
For a perimeter defender to be successful in any level of basketball, they have to be able to navigate screens well. Rice does exactly that right here. Once he feels the screen coming, Rice doesn’t let his hips get locked and plays over the screener to cut off any dribble penetration or advantage the offense could gain from the attempted screen and roll.
Rice can also match up with smaller and shiftier guards at the high school level. In this play we see Rice contain a smaller guard by swinging his hips well and using solid lateral quickness to stay in front of his man and contest the shot very well.
All in all, Rodney Rice will be a multi-faceted player for Virginia Tech to use right out of the gate as a freshman next season. He might not have the traits to be a lead guard but he can perfectly complement one as a silky smooth two guard with great shooting and scoring potential. I see shades of former Florida standout and current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Tre Mann in Rodney Rice’s game.