CHICAGO — The talent is indisputable.
The character? Not so much.
While Glen Rice Jr. is unquestionably one of the best shooters among NBA draft prospects, his history of off-the-court issues has cast a dark cloud over his future.
Rice played this past season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA’s Development League. The 6-foot-5 Rice made continual progression throughout the regular season and, by the time the playoffs rolled around, was a dominant player.
Rice, the son of former NBA star Glen Rice, averaged 25 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2 blocked shots and 2 steals in the leading the Vipers to the championship. In the final series, Rice averaged 29 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3.5 blocked shots and 3 steals.
That virtuoso performance has shot Rice up the draft board charts. There are some NBA officials who believe Rice could be a mid-first round pick — or in the vicinity of where the Milwaukee Bucks pick at 15.
Rice, who has workout set up with the Bucks, would certainly address one of the team’s needs for another perimeter shooter. But don’t expect him to be the second coming of his father, who seemingly had unlimited range.
Asked if he was as good of a shooter as his dad, Rice said, “Who is? Not too many people can shoot like him. I shoot the ball extremely well, but he’s one of the best ever in the NBA.”
As skilled as Rice is, his past still haunts him. NBA officials are all too well aware of his indiscretions at George Tech,
Rice was dismissed from the team on three occasions before finally being dismissed from the team just over a year ago after an incident involving driving under the influence and discharging a firearm.
Rice acknowledged teams at the pre-draft probed him about his past problems. He said he tried to convince them they were behind him.
“Immaturity, that’s the main thing,” Rice said of his issues. “I chalk it up to immaturity. It definitely wakes you up. I’m not about that anymore.”
Skiles draws interest
The NBA pre-draft camp is always fraught with rumors. One that started percolating Saturday pertained to Brooklyn’s search for a new head coach.
Some NBA officials claim the Nets are honing in on Lionel Hollins, Memphis’ coach whose contract will soon expire. The Nets’ interest in Hollins is hardly surprising, especially considering the terrific job Hollins has done this season.
What is surprising, though, is that the Nets also have put Scott Skiles on their short list. Skiles was fired by the Bucks in January after four-plus tumultuous seasons in Milwaukee. Under Skiles, the Bucks had constant internal issues and qualified for the playoffs just once.
With the No. 1 pick in the draft …
Former Georgetown small forward Otto Porter is almost a lock to be one of the top five players selected in the draft.
When I asked Porter who he would take with the No. 1 pick — excluding himself, of course — Porter didn’t sidestep the question or give any politically-correct response. “I’d pick Ben McLemore,’’ Porter said. “He is explosive. He can shoot and he’s unselfish. I’d definitely pick him if I had the No. 1 pick.”
McLemore, a shooting guard from Kansas, is generally considered the second-best draft prospect behind Kentucky center Nerlens Noel.
BLUE BY THE NUMBERS: Former Marquette University shooting guard and Madison Memorial star Vander Blue was measured at 6-3 1/2 without shoes at the pre-draft camp and 6-5 1/2 with shoes. He weighed 197 pounds, had a 6-6 wingspan, 8-4 1/2 reach and 4.6 percent body fat.
UNCERTAIN FUTURES: While head coach Jim Boylan was dismissed from the team two weeks ago, his assistant coaches — Sidney Moncrief, Bill Peterson, Anthony Goldwire, Joe Wolf and Chris Gilmartin — are still under contract until the end of June. Whether any of them will be retained is uncertain.
They aren’t the only ones in the Bucks organization on shaky ground. Player personnel director Dave Babcock, scouting director Billy McKinney and head athletic trainer Marc Boff, among others, are also in the final year of their contracts.
BONUS SHOTS: After the Bucks bowed out of of the playoffs to Miami, I asked current Heat and former Bucks guard Ray Allen which Bucks impressed him. He immediately cited Mike Dunleavy. Apparently, Dunleavy’s fine playoff showing after a quality regular-season performance has impressed some other NBA folks as well. I’m hearing several teams are keenly interested in signing the soon-to-be unrestricted free-agent. … Whatever weight-reduction program Bob Lanier is on is definitely working. He’s looking more like a small forward than a gargantuan center. … Ex-Missouri point guard Phil Pressey has drawn interest from Orlando, Brooklyn and New York. Pressey is the son of former Bucks standout “point forward” Paul Pressey. Asked if he would like to follow in his father’s footsteps and play for the Bucks, Phil said, “That would be nice. My dad played well there and liked it. Everybody knows him there.” … McLemore on Canadian prep phenom Andrew Wiggins, who recently signed with McLemore’s old school Kansas: “I think he’s great. I think he’s going to fit in there perfectly.” … Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk said he will work out for the Bucks before the draft. Ditto for Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Willams. … Rudy Gobert has an insane 9-foot, 7-inch reach. That’s a mere three inches shy of touching the rim. The next longest reach among draft prospects is 9-3½ by Louisville’s Gorgi Dieng. ... Go figure: Porter was interviewed by Denver, which has the 27th pick. … This just in: The Bucks, in attempt to leave no stone unturned, plan to interview Gene Shue.