Glen Rice Jr. didn’t expect to wait until the second round of last month’s NBA draft to get picked, but he was too excited about his arrival to be worried about the slide. Reaching the destination was more much important to Rice than any disappointment from having to hear 34 names go ahead of him.
“I was just happy to hear my name,” said Rice, the 35th pick of the June 27 NBA draft. “You can’t get greedy. I heard my name. I was fine. I was just as happy as the first pick. I can guarantee it.
“I was ecstatic. I didn’t think I was going to be as happy as I actually was when it finally happened,” Rice said. “I know it’s been my dream. I’m sure just like most other guys that got drafted to play here at this level. For a dream to come true after all the years and years of work to put in. Not too many better feelings than that.”
Rice certainly would’ve preferred to go higher — especially because a first-round selection would’ve secured at least two years of guaranteed NBA salary – but he knows that some unusual circumstances and some personal missteps contributed to him being passed over multiple times on the night of the NBA draft.
Ten shooting guards went ahead of Rice in the draft – including the first three picks of the second round. And the Wizards, stunned that he was still available so late in the draft, swapped picks Nos. 38 and 54 with the 76ers to move up to No. 35 for the sharpshooting Rice. Rice said he wouldn’t hold anything against the teams that took other players and won’t use the slights to push him on the basketball court.
“I don’t need any extra motivation. I’m always just going to work, to show I’m the best player on the floor,” Rice said. “That’s my goal; it’s always be the best. Best me I can be. Best player on the floor. first round, second round, even if I was picked number one, I’d still have something to prove. It doesn’t really matter much to me. I don’t use that as motivation. I’m a competitive person. That’s motivation enough.”
Rice signed with the Wizards on Monday and was one of the first players to arrive in Washington for this week’s summer league minicamp, using the days leading up to the first practice to familiarize himself with Verizon Center.
He certainly appeared comfortable as the team scrimmaged in the latter end of practice on Monday evening. The 6-foot-6 swingman didn’t hesitate when he had open looks, was quick and decisive on his drives and repeatedly found a way to get buckets.
“I’ve been scoring all my life. That’s what I know,” Rice said with a laugh. “Can’t get shy now, just because I moved up a level. I’m just going to keep doing what I have done to get here. Not going to change anything.”
Rice’s game might be unchanged, but he had to go through a humbling transition after getting dismissed from Georgia Tech for disciplinary reasons, including an incident in which he was arrested for driving a vehicle in which a passenger fired a weapon. Still chasing his NBA dream, Rice chose to play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Developmental League last season to restore his reputation and remain revelant in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators.
“I didn’t want to get too far,” Rice said, explaining why he didn’t go directly to Europe. “I felt the D-League was the closest route to the NBA. A lot of scouts came to watch the D-League games and I felt that would’ve been the best decision for me.”
In one season in the D-League, Rice played a solid role for the Vipers until the Los Angeles Lakers called up Andrew Goudelock prior to the playoffs and he exploded, capturing the Finals MVP award as he led his team to the D-League championship.
“It taught a lot,” Rice said of the D-League experience. “Mainly because of the teammates and whatnot. Professional guys. It’s a lot of older guys and they’ve been through a lot more than a college teammate and whatnot. And I just took out a lot from what they say and also what they do, how they carry themselves. I think the D-League was a big stepping stone in my career.”
When he finally got drafted, Rice spoke to his famous father, a three-time NBA all-star, who told him: “Congratulations. Don’t get complacent. Keep working.”
Rice said he has no plans of being satisfied, because there is so much left to accomplish: “I’m happy to be here, happy to be a part of this team. Couldn’t think of any other place rather than here. I’m just happy with how it turned out. Just ready to work.”