Kansas guard MJ Rice becomes 5th member of 2022-23 roster to enter transfer portal
photo by: Emma Pravecek/Journal-World Photo
Kansas freshman MJ Rice has become the fifth member of the 2022-23 KU men’s hoops team to enter the transfer portal, a Kansas Athletics official confirmed to the Journal-World on Wednesday afternoon.
Jason Jordan, the Director of Basketball Recruiting for Sports Illustrated, was the first to report Rice’s intention to enter the portal on Wednesday.
Rice joins Cam Martin, Bobby Pettiford, Zach Clemence and Joe Yesufu in deciding to leave Kansas in search of opportunities elsewhere. His departure marks the second time in the last three years that five KU players have entered KU program. KU also saw five guys enter the portal after the 2020-21 season.
A former five-star freshman from Henderson, North Carolina, who came to KU with a McDonald’s All American pedigree and the potential to be an impact freshman, Rice’s KU career never got off the ground.
He arrived with an ankle injury and suffered a series of ailments throughout his freshman season, from back spasms and kidney stones to a bout with COVID-19.
Those setbacks kept him from not only playing on game day but also contributing much in several practices, which slowed the learning curve and left him as a deep option on the bench for most of the season.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Rice appeared in 23 of KU’s 36 games this season. He averaged just 7.6 minutes per game and only played double-digit minutes six times. He also played four minutes or fewer 11 times.
In limited minutes, the talented and physical guard averaged 2.2 points and one rebound per game while shooting 40.8% from the floor and 20% from 3-point range. Those numbers were a far cry from the 18 points he put up in his first camp scrimmage with the Jayhawks last summer, when he arrived with the potential to push fellow-freshman and KU roommate Gradey Dick for a starting spot.
Shortly after that first scrimmage, KU coach Bill Self told reporters there was “no doubt” that both Dick and Rice would “fight for starting positions here.”
Dick went on to start all 36 of KU’s games this season while Rice worked through all of his ailments to try to find a consistent role that fit him and the roster.
It never came and now it looks as if he’ll search for it elsewhere. As a first-time transfer, he’ll be eligible to play at his new school immediately.
With Jalen Wilson, Kevin McCullar Jr. and now Rice, Clemence, Martin, Pettiford and Yesufu leaving this offseason, Kansas has room for the four incoming freshmen who will join the roster this summer — four-star guards/wings Elmarko Jackson, Jamari McDowell, Chris Johnson and Marcus Adams Jr. — and then some.
While they normally are allowed 13 scholarships per season, the Jayhawks could be down to 12 for the 2023-24 sea-son because of the self-imposed penalty tied to the Jayhawks’ NCAA infractions case that remains ongoing. The penalty, which was announced last November, indicated, among other things that KU would face a “reduction of three total scholarships in men’s basketball distributed over the next three years.”
Even with that, Kansas should be staring at the potential to add at least three more players to the roster before the 2023-24 season. In addition to the known departures, freshman guard Gradey Dick has to weigh the decision of returning to KU or turning pro, as well.