Rayvonte Rice, a shooting guard built somewhat like former Illinois star Sergio McClain, is transferring to his home town school. Rice averaged 16.8 points and 5.8 points for Drake but decided to seek a higher profile school for his final two seasons of eligibility.
"It's exciting to get to come back home and play in front of my family and friends. It should be fun."
Rice has long followed the Illini, but he left no doubt his main reason for the transfer.
"The coaches. I pretty much knew them from the first time I was recruited by them at Ohio."
Since Rice knows them better than most Illini fans, he shared his thoughts about them.
"They're pretty cool. Coach (John) Groce recruited me and kept me with him most of the time on my official visit. I really felt comfortable around him. He seems like a good guy, and I can have a pretty good relationship with him. And he brought some more coaches from Ohio with him too, Coach (Dustin) Ford and Coach (Jamall) Walker."
Rice also feels Groce's preferred offensive and defensive style fits his game well.
"They're gonna really run with the ball and not slow it up. That's what I'm used to. What he did at Ohio, I think he's gonna bring that to Illinois. I think it's gonna be a good fit."
Rice was a do-everything player for Champaign Centennial in high school. He could hit the three, but he was also adept at using his muscular body to make room for himself near the basket. He has expanded his game at Drake and shared areas he's improved during college.
"Knowing when I have a mismatch with me. Knowing when to go down low against smaller guards. I've also improved my scoring and my defense."
Rice will have to sit out a year but will have two years eligibility beginning in 2013. That will help the Illini since they will lose guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson to graduation after this next season.
The Illini now have 11 players in scholarship.