As a coach in the Atlantic 10, GW men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs knows what he’s up against. The Colonials do not have a sparkling new arena or a campus full of green space to show off to recruits.
But as he has proven with two strong recruiting classes in 2002 and 2003, Hobbs does not need the traditional means to succeed in Foggy Bottom.
“It’s tough to get people to commit when schools have such new facilities,” Hobbs said. “Our biggest attraction is our players and their attitude towards the program.”
Hobbs’ recruiting ability again appears to be paying off. The Colonials’ freshman class this year is small but big on reputation. The lone rookie is freshman Maureece Rice, one of the most high profile players the Colonials have landed in years.
The six-foot-one-inch guard from Philadelphia is already famous in his hometown – he broke Wilt Chamberlain’s career high school scoring record of 2,206 points (Rice had 2,681). Last year, Rice averaged 32 points and five rebounds in his only season at Philadelphia Lutheran High School.
As a senior at Strawberry Mansion High School in 2003, where he spent four years, he averaged 29.2 points per game and gained much respect in the college basketball circles. Rice was ranked the 79th best graduating senior by HoopScoops.com.
But due to the Colonials’ recent success, Hobbs said Rice will not be forced to carry the offensive load right away. The pressure of winning has been taken of the shoulders of the freshmen, even though he feels they will play a significant role.
“In order to have a successful program you need to get to a point when you aren’t depending on freshmen to win games,” Hobbs said. “The nice part for Maureece is he’ll be the first freshman since I’ve been here that won’t have pressure to have to be a great player out of the gate to be successful. He will add to what we have. He is going to be a great player. There is no doubt in my mind about that.”
Junior Mike Hall had a similar impression of the guard, whom Hobbs has not made available to the media.
“From what I’ve seen so far, Maureece is a good player,” Hall said. “He works hard and from what I’ve heard about his high school days, he has a promising future here.”
In addition to Hall, junior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu will look to Rice to contribute, especially on the offensive end.
“I think he adds to the dimension of scoring,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “From his reputation in high school, he was one of the best scorers in the country. I think he’ll score and he’s able to pass too, to be a point guard. I think he’ll play a significant role. If he could adjust to the college game, he’ll help a lot.”
In addition to the arrival of Rice, the team looks forward to the return of sophomore Jaaron Greene. Greene appeared in the season opener against University of North Carolina-Charlotte last year but suffered a sprained thumb in a December practice and sat out the rest of the year.
The added talent that the Colonials have gathered in the off-season will only add to the success of the team in the future. And while Rice will surely add points off the bench this year, his presence will become more important in the years ahead.