Rayvonte Rice transferring to Illini

Updated: April 28, 2012, 11:08 AM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Drake shooting guard Rayvonte Rice announced Wednesday he will transfer to Illinois.

Rice, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound guard, chose the Illini over Xavier. Rice grew up in Champaign, Ill., and attended Champaign Centennial High School.

Rice averaged 16.5 points and 5.7 rebounds this past season for Drake. He will have two years of eligibility after sitting out next season per NCAA transfer rules.

"Illinois, I think it's a good fit," Rice said Wednesday. "The coaches really made me feel comfortable. I get a chance to play in front of my friends and family. It's going to be great."

Rice said he wasn't recruited much by former Illinois coach Bruce Weber coming out of high school. First-year Illini coach John Groce did recruit Rice while Groce was at Ohio, and their previous relationship helped Rice decide on the Illini.

"He's a good dude," Rice said of Groce. "He showed what he could do at Ohio. He took them to the Sweet 16 and the NCAA tournament a couple times. I think he'll be a good dude to play for. I think he likes to get up and down on the offensive end. He's really big on defense. I like that kind of playing."

Rice thinks that being a bigger guard will benefit the Illini.

"I would say I can help them in front of the net with mismatches like I did at Drake against smaller guards," Rice said. "Stick with what I'm doing and get better and improve and work on my ballhandling."

Rice is Groce's first addition to the Illini. Class of 2013 recruits Jalen James and Malcolm Hill have reaffirmed their commitments to Illinois since Groce was hired. Class of 2012 recruit Michael Orris recently requested and was given a release from his Illinois letter of intent.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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