How will the Tyrese Rice story end?
Tyrese Rice made the ACC's second team. Congratulations to him. But what are we, the close observers, to make of it? He was first team ACC last year. Did he take a step back? Did he have to subjugate himself in order for the team to advance? Rice proclaimed that he returned for his final season at BC to go out a winner. Mission accomplished. Picked to finish 11th, BC proved the media and the league wrong and couldn't have been as good without their senior leader and leading scorer. Yet there is still an emptiness. Something about it all feels hollow and I think it's about Rice.
I've loved this season. The North Carolina and Duke games will be ones we remember for years. Watching Sanders, Jackson and Trapani all emerge and take over games has been rejuvenating. Their futures are bright and we get to witness it all for the next few seasons. Sanders sinking his shot against Georgia Tech was just the beginning. But (and indulge me for a minute) that moment showed how much Rice has been detached from this excitement, the young players' growth and the success of this season. Skinner didn't put the ball in Rice's hands. Sanders didn't look to give it back to Rice and then he, not Tyrese, made the clutch shot. Rice was just an observer. A decoy.
Tyrese Rice is a great basketball player. Rice is the best shooter on the team. He's one of the most natural scorers in college basketball. Put him on a midmajor and he'd be a media darling and averaging 30 a game. He's got a very high basketball IQ and has made smart plays from the minute he stepped on campus. And to top off the package, the strong little bull is left handed. Just one more thing to keep defenders off balance. His fearlessness provided countless highlights. Think back to the 2007 ACC Tourney...Rice kept BC in the Miami game singlehandedly. Last year he nearly went for 50 against top ranked North Carolina. Where were those moments this year? Never as emotional or gregarious as some past BC stars, Rice seemed bored and unsure of himself at times this year.
Now, with his BC career coming to an end, Rice has a chance to write the ending to his story. He is capable of leading this team deep this week in Atlanta and next week in the Big Dance. He needs to play smart. He needs to strike the right balance between making his teammates better and asserting himself. He needs to be the man and player we know he can be. Earlier this year BC basketball historian Bob Ryan hinted that Rice could be the best guard to come through the Heights. Right now, in my opinion, he's not even in the discussion. But...and it's a big but...Rice can vault up the list with his play this month. I don't know Rice. The people around him all seem nice and those around BC speak highly of him. He can be more than he's been. Let's hope for him and for BC, that we are about to see something special.