Transfer Spotlight: Myles Rice, Washington State

The Pac-12 player of the year has entered the transfer portal, and could be a great fit at BYU.
Myles Rice enters the tunnel following WSU's first-round win over Drake
Myles Rice enters the tunnel following WSU's first-round win over Drake / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Last season's Pac-12 Freshman of the Year has entered the transfer portal, and BYU would be crazy not to take a swing at him.

Myles Rice was a Freshman All-American last season following his year with the Cougars of Pullman. Averaging 14.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals per game as a freshman is an impressive accomplishment regardless of circumstances, but Rice's story suggests that his resilience is nearly super-human.

Rice shares something very unique with many BYU players, in that he's two years older than his sophomore status would lead you to believe. Rice redshirted his first season and planned to start his career in the 2022-23 season, but his plans were interrupted by a cancer diagnosis before the beginning of his second season.

Myles Rice, Nate Ferguson
Myles Rice elevates over the outstretched arm of Drake's Nate Ferguson in the NCAA Tournament / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Rice's battle with cancer has been highly documented and was among college basketball's top stories this past season. Overcoming that battle would be challenging for anyone, but exceeding all expectations to become the best player on a tournament team is incredible. For a BYU team that struggled to perform when it mattered most, Rice's leadership would be valuable when the team faces adversity.

The point guard out of Pullman is the 11th-rated transfer prospect according to 247 Sports, so he will certainly get plenty of attention from top programs across the nation. He's originally from South Carolina and has no connection to BYU's sponsor religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What reason would he have to come to BYU?

Cougars On the Rise

BYU is a member of the Big 12, which is still the toughest conference in college hoops, despite having no Final Four representation in this year's tournament. The Cougars are still the new kids, but also a program on the rise, finishing 5th in the conference and earning a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Despite all this, they are a team without a star player--four all-conference honorable mentions, but no one cracking the official teams.

Myles Rice
Myles Rice catches his breath against Big 12 power, Iowa State, in the NCAA Tournament / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Rice would certainly be the Cougars' starting point guard, or even play a bit at the 2. BYU's current starting point guard, Dallin Hall, has been shaky at times in his starting role. Good at limiting turnovers and sharing the ball, but lacking in many other facets of the game, his game could be more tailored for a significant, but limited role off the bench behind Rice. Think of Tyus Jones or Monte Morris in the NBA, players who will likely never be the starting point guard on a championship roster, but play smart with the ball in their hands and limit mistakes. Perfect for leading the second unit and ensuring the offense continues to run smoothly.

Style of Play

BYU's unique style of play is well-known in the world of college basketball. A team that shoots more 3-pointers than inside shots fits the direction the NBA is moving in, valuing efficient shots over mid-range shooting and other shot attempts of lesser value. At first glance, it would be easy to see Rice's 3PT% of 27.5% and say that his game wouldn't fit in BYU's 3-heavy offensive system. That's a lazy take, strawman, and I'll tell you why.

Rice's ability to finish at the rim could be a perfect addition to a BYU team that was often allergic to layups. Rice finished 63% of his attempts at the rim last year, with a great handle to slice through the cloth when good defenses stitch openings shut. In addition to his ability to get himself to the rim, using the talents of Aly Khalifa to slash and tie defenders in knots for open passes could be a perfect fit for Rice.

BYU's spacing is top-notch, often playing five-out to spread the defense thin. With this spacing, Rice would have ample space to operate offensively, even against some of the stingiest defenses in the nation on the Cougars' roster, a-la Houston and Iowa State.

Rice planting himself in Provo would be a longshot, but I think could be worth a try for a BYU team looking to continue rising as a program in the Big 12.

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