MJ Rice is a 2022 5-star recruit playing at Oak Hill Academy. He transferred there from Durham Academy just this past year.
This was just another chapter in what has been an eventful high school career.
Rice was already turning heads as a freshman and was quickly climbing the ranks. His blend of size, speed, athleticism, and brute strength couples with great footwork, a solid handle, and a consistent shot, had college coaches taking notice.
He had Duke, Kentucky, NC State, Louisville, and a slew of other schools already showing serious interest and NBA draft boards penciling him in for a 2023 first rounder. But a torn ACL in December 2019 changed things.
Suddenly some of the top their schools began to look at other options. Almost all of the schools kept involved with Rice, but there were only a handful that kept recruiting him as hard as they had prior to the injury.
The surgery went well after 9 months of rehab, Rice was back. But questions remained if he’d be able to regain his lateral quickness and his athleticism.
If you’ve gotten to watch any of his games recently, you’d see that MJ Rice is back.
ESPN junior 60 MJ Rice: hard to guard!
— Who's Next (@WhosNextHS) February 6, 2021
While he’s likely still only at about 85-90%, he’s still the most dominant player on the floor almost every night, and he’s not even a senior yet.
This kid has it all. Barring any more setbacks, it’s hard to see him not being a superstar at both the college and the pro level. He’s got the size, the speed, the hops, the shot, and man is he strong.
Coming in at 6’5 and 225 lbs, Rice seeks contact. He’s an extremely physical player, forcing defenders to brace for contact. Sometimes he’ll deliver it, and sometimes he’ll put you on your heels and pull up a jumper in your face. Watching him against high schoolers almost seems unfair.
Here is how Rice described his game to Stockrisers.com:
“I’m a competitor. I can guard a 1-5 and I can score at all three levels. I’m a dog, so I’m very aggressive and I can create my own shot and shots for others. I can really open up the floor and attract all the attention and I can make plays for my teammates. I can really do it all with my size and ability to score and guard.”
Just this week, 247’s Crystal Ball predictions broke in favor of NC State. Multiple analysts have predicted Rice will end up with the Wolfpack, one of the teams he’s constantly said has recruited him the hardest over the course of his high school career. (There have also been rumors that he grew up rooting for the Wolfpack.)
Rice would immediately be the best player Keatts has ever brought it and would be a potential program changer, even if he were here for one year. He fits Keatts mold perfectly in that he’s a head down, hard working, no ego, kid who just loves to win.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation, but as of now, it’s looking like the experts feel like Rice may be leaning towards NC State.