GW men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs came to Foggy Bottom three years ago with a reputation for recruiting star talent, and it appears he is on the verge of attracting one of the greatest high school players in Philadelphia history.
There are strong indications that Maureece Rice, who broke Wilt Chamberlain’s high school career points record in Philadelphia, will accept a scholarship to suit up for the Colonials next year, filling the one spot made available by senior Greg Collucci’s departure.
Team sources indicated this week that Hobbs is simply waiting for Rice’s letter of intent to arrive in the mail, and a player told The Hatchet that he has heard coaches talking about Rice’s imminent signing.
Hobbs declined to comment on the situation earlier this week.
A player of unquestionable talent, the 6-foot, 215-pound Rice has had academic and character issues in his prep career. While he led Strawberry Mansion High School to two public league titles and annihilated Chamberlain’s record (Rice finished with 2,681 career points, 475 more than the Big Dipper), he reportedly did not meet the requisite 820 SAT score needed to qualify for Division I basketball after his graduation last year.
Because athletes can attend prep schools and compete for one season as post-graduates, Rice began this year at Laurinburg Institute, a basketball-rich prep school in North Carolina. But he left after experiencing homesickness and problems with his playing time and the coach, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Rice then spent three weeks at Berean Institute in Philadelphia before leaving again to play at a better basketball school, Philadelphia Lutheran High School.
Character issues were also raised at the prestigious Adidas ABCD camp the summer after Rice’s junior year of high school. An ESPN article with news and notes from the camp said Rice left after the first day.
“Allegedly, Rice was upset that he had only taken three shots in the team’s first five possessions. His teammates were glad to see him go,” the article said.
But Gerald Hendricks, Rice’s high school coach at Strawberry Mansion, said he never had any character problems with Rice and that he thinks the versatile guard will succeed at the college level.
“Maureece has done everything that we asked of him,” Hendricks told The Hatchet. “He’s played four positions, all except center, and if you need points at a certain time, you can put it in his hands and he can score for you.”
As a senior at Strawberry Mansion, Rice led southeastern Pennsylvania in scoring with 29.2 points per game and earned the Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAAA Player of the Year award.
Hendricks said he had not talked to Rice in three weeks and was not aware of any decision, but he knew Rice had been considering schools from the Big East and Atlantic 10. The University of Miami had been one of Rice’s top choices, Hendricks said, until the Hurricanes fired head coach Perry Clark.
Hendricks also said that Hobbs was one of many coaches who came to watch Rice play in high school, but he never stood out among the others.
“They just came to observe everything and (Hobbs) never said anything completely positive or anything negative about Maureece that I remember,” he said. “But everybody likes Maureece. He’s a good person and a good ball player.”