Rice played for legendary coach Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1987-88 to 1990-91. He was the starting point guard his final two seasons, and he directed the Tar Heels' Final Four team as a senior, earning Most Outstanding Senior honors. That Carolina team had eight future NBA players on the roster (Pete Chilcutt, Hubert Davis, Rick Fox, George Lynch, Eric Montross, Derrick Phelps, Clifford Rozier, and Kevin Salvadori).
After a short stint playing professional ball in England, Rice returned to his alma mater to work in administrative duties in the basketball office while earning his degree in radio, television, and motion pictures. He was then hired as an assistant to Coach Jerry Green at Oregon.
Following his five-year term at Illinois State, Rice was an assistant at Providence for Coach Tim Welsh. While there, he helped the Friars land a consensus top 10 recruiting group.
Rice received an offer he couldn't refuse which took him out of collegiate coaching. For five years, he was a personal trainer to best friend and former Tar Heel teammate Rick Fox. He also served as Fox's best man when he married actress/singer Vanessa Williams, with whom he remains good friends today. During this time, he also served as the head coach of the Bahamian National Basketball Team. After going back to his alma mater for a year to work as a volunteer assistant, Rice was ready to return to the sidelines when Kevin Stallings hired him a month ago.
Recently, I talked with Coach Rice and became quickly enthused by his energy and confidence. If I were a prospective recruit, I'd find it hard to say the word "no" to him. In the first of four parts of our interview, he tells us why he decided to return to active coaching.
VandyMania.com: What went into your decision to return to active coaching and come to Vanderbilt?
King Rice: I always wanted to be a basketball coach, and I had some other opportunities six years ago to work with my former (college) teammate Rick Fox of the (Los Angeles) Lakers. Rick's my best friend, and he asked me to come out there to help him. I thought the opportunity to do it was too good to pass up.
I always knew I wanted be a basketball coach, and to be able to come to Vanderbilt was just a big blessing because I've known Coach Stallings a long time. I think he's a great basketball coach, and the opportunity to work with him was something that I could not pass up.
VM: You mentioned playing with Rick Fox and that he is your best friend. You moved to southern California to be his personal trainer. With this added experience, will you be assisting with the personal training of the basketball players at Vanderbilt?
KR: We do individual workouts once school gets started, and all of us, starting with Coach Stallings and with Coach Muller, Coach Richardson, Coach Frederick, and myself, will get an opportunity to work with our players one-on-one, one coach with two or three players. It's all of our responsibilities, and right now, our kids really want to practice and get better. Once you get their mindset thinking that they want to work to get better, I think we're already working in the right direction.
In Part Two, Coach Rice addresses recruiting specific to Vanderbilt.