Staying Or Leaving?

Although it's only May the University of Miami men's basketball team could have a good idea of what the upcoming season may shape up like by tomorrow. That's when Hurricanes forward Darius Rice will announce whether he is declaring for the NBA draft or returning to UM for his senior season at a scheduled press conference on campus. UM spokesperson Sam Henderson confirmed that a press conference will take place Thursday and that Rice will make his intentions known at that time.

An unnamed source within the program said that Rice is leaning towards returning to school.

"I think Darius understands that he could use another year in school to get stronger and develop his overall game some more. Another factor is that Darius will be main guy on the team next season, even more than he was last year."

Even last October, before the start of his junior season, there was speculation that Rice would opt for the NBA instead of returning for his final season at UM. But after experiencing a disappointing season –the Hurricanes finished 11-17- and getting conflicting opinions on where he may land in the draft Rice is still weighing his options.

"It's a very difficult thing to deal with," said the 6-10 Rice who led the Hurricanes with 18.7 points and was tied for second with 5.8 rebounds a game last season. "You think you have your mind made up then you have second thoughts."

"I hear one thing from one person and then there's your own opinion. Just from looking at some of the guys in the draft I think to myself, ‘I'm better than some of those guys so maybe I should go,' but at the same time I'm still trying to make a smart decision."

Rice had made it clear before the start of last season that we would leave for the pro ranks if he got information that his stock was rising. Several weeks ago Rice added that he would likely turn pro if he had an opportunity of being selected in the middle of the first round. But being drafted in the first-round isn't a guarantee considering that NBA scouts and coaches still have questions about Rice's strength, ability to defend bigger players and lack of inside game.

Rice, who was the Hurricanes leading scorer in 14 games this past season, ranked fifth in field goal percentage (.426), second in three-point shooting percentage (.364), second in rebounding (5.8) and tied for second in steals (37) on the team.

Rice had a season-high 32 points in a double-overtime loss against the University of Florida last season.

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