Duke basketball recruiters haven’t forgotten about former Durham star

Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball recruiting team remembered to call its regular visitor.

Oak Hill Academy (Va.) small forward MJ Rice, a five-star who ranks No. 22 on the 247Sports 2022 Composite and recently announced his transfer from Durham Academy (N.C.) for his final two prep seasons, has already met with Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and some of his ACC counterparts while taking unofficial visits.

Nevertheless, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Rice couldn’t hide his excitement on Monday when explaining to SI recruiting insider Jason Jordan what it feels like from his end on the first day hearing directly from college coaches:

“It’s important for coaches to connect with our parents, but the real relationship that needs to build is between them and us. Now, we can start to get to know the coaches on a different level; just what the coach is like and their personality and things like that. All of that helps us make the best decision for us in the end. I’m loving it.”

Rice, who sat behind the Duke basketball bench inside Cameron Indoor Stadium a few different times across the Blue Devils’ 25-6 campaign last season, heard again from the recruiters in Durham on Monday, indicating continued interest on their part despite no offer to date.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Coach K

Based on what the 16-year-old wrote in his February SI blog about one of his experiences at Duke, one can assume the interest is mutual:

“The atmosphere was great…Coach K talked to me about how they’d been watching me and would continue to watch me…The staff there was so supportive, and they showed a lot of love. You can tell that it’s really a brotherhood there, so that’s what stood out to me the most.”

Competition is heating up for the potential Duke basketball target

To no surprise, more than 10 other programs have hit up Rice’s phone this week as well, including the five who had already extended him an offer: North Carolina State, Boston College, Pitt, Ole Miss, and Providence.

ALSO READ: 15 programs who hate Coach K’s success

His offer sheet is sure to grow some this week and then likely by leaps and bounds once he plays competitively again after sitting out since December with an ACL tear. Before the injury, Rice was on a tear, proving to be a dynamic scoring threat from anywhere, not to mention a tremendous rebounder for his position, on his way to averaging 25 points and nine boards.

In February, when ranking the then-sophomore No. 93 overall among high schoolers of all ages despite his ongoing recovery, Rivals analysts Corey Evans and Eric Bossi offered a brief assessment of Rice’s game:

“When healthy, strength, toughness, and will to score make him a load on the offensive end. He already looks like a college sophomore physically.”

Coach K and his assistants have not yet handed out a 2022 offer. MJ Rice is certainly a prime candidate to be the first recipient.

light. Related Story. Physical five-star grabs Duke's attention

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting news and views.