Boys Basketball – Alexander Rice Headed to Mater Dei
Alexander Rice endured a commute of more than an hour to learn basketball from the most revered high school basketball coach in the country, even though he had a Division I head coach living under his own roof.
The son of Monmouth University coach King Rice made the trek to St. Anthony last year to play for Bob Hurley Sr., and now that the school has closed its doors due to financial hardship, the younger Rice is hoping the next best thing is much closer to home.
Father and son made their choice Monday, picking Mater Dei Prep as the new home for the Class of 2019 guard. Seraphs head coach Ben Gamble confirmed King Rice informed him his son will be attending the Middletown school and the news first was first reported by Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog on Twitter.
Rice is the second player from last year's St. Anthony team, which lost to Hudson Catholic in the NJSIAA North Jersey Non-Public B final, to make public his intention to play in the Shore Conference in the 2017-18 season. Class of 2018 center Savior Akuwovo announced last month that he will be attending the Ranney School in the fall.
As a sophomore last year, Rice started for a Friars team that went 23-6 and was the team's second-leading scorer at a little more than 10 points per game. He played his best game of the season on Feb. 10 against Ranney, pouring in 24 points and hitting the winning three-pointer with four seconds left in a 51-48 St. Anthony win over the Panthers.
Rice will leave Hurley's old team for a new one coached by one of his disciples. Gamble not only played for Hurley at St. Anthony, but also coached with him for 15 years. Since Gamble took over Mater Dei before the 2015-16 season, the Seraphs are 51-6 with two Class B Central championships and two Shore Conference championships.
Rice joins a Mater Dei team that will aim for its third straight Shore Conference Tournament title next season after repeating as champions in 2016-17. The Seraphs graduated 6-foot-6 Princeton University recruit Elijah Barnes, as well as versatile 6-3 senior Elijah Mitchell, who will play at Dominican College next season.
Mater Dei is set to return starting guards Kenny Jones and Kyle Cardaci, as well as 6-9 senior Adam Afifi in the middle - all as seniors. Yasin Pretlow was also a key scorer off the bench as a junior this past season, while wing Brandon Wilson also saw minutes as a junior in 2016-17.
King Rice, who played for legendary coach Dean Smith at North Carolina, already has some familiarity with the Seraphs. Monmouth has offered a scholarship to Jones, who is drawing attention as a mid-major recruit within the Class of 2018.