The Nebraska men’s basketball team welcomed its lone 2023 commit to the program on Wednesday as Eli Rice made things official with his national letter of intent during the early signing period.
Rice is a 6-foot-7, 195-pound guard who hails from Gallatin, Tennessee. The consensus 3-star recruit graduated from Beech (Tenn.) High School last year and is spending a postgraduate year at IMG Academy before enrolling at Nebraska.
“Eli is a guard with good positional size and length and the versatility to play several positions in our system,” Coach Hoiberg said in a release. “He is a good scorer who can make plays for others and rebounds well for his position. Eli has a lot of potential for development, as he played just two years of high school basketball and is young for graduating class. I think his best basketball days are ahead of him.”
Rice averaged 17.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game last year while leading Beech to a 34-2 season that included a 33-game winning streak and a state tournament appearance, the school’s first since 2010.
Nebraska offered Rice back in mid-July and he committed to the Huskers a month later.
“Really excited about Eli,” Hoiberg said when speaking with reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “He’s a guy that we followed very closely this summer. We threw an offer at him pretty quickly once we saw the type of player that he was. Very versatile, has great size; that’s something I think when you look at this year’s roster that we’ve talked a lot about was the size and versatility and length that we have, and Eli certainly fits into that mold. He’s got a really nice shooting stroke, lefty, and a guy that can finish above the rim. He has the potential to be a very good defender as well.
“He’s playing for a great coach, Jimmy Carr, down at IMG, and he’s playing against a great schedule which will help prepare him for when he gets here next summer.”
Rice is the only player who signed with Nebraska on Wednesday as things have been relatively quiet on the recruiting front recently. Nebraska currently has three open scholarships for the 2023-24 season. Hoiberg said they’re talking to a lot of prospects right now and are being selective.
“We just want to make sure it’s the right person that fits our program and fits the system and the type of player we want moving forward,” Hoiberg said. “There’s a chance that we’ll have some visits coming up before high school seasons get too crazy. We’re talking to a lot of guys, but It has to be the right guy. That’s, I think, the No. 1 thing when you look at recruiting is they have to fit your system. We feel good about our roster, guys coming back. Our young players we feel really good about as far as what their future holds. Eli fits. We were really excited when he gave s his commitment a couple weeks ago and then to finalize it today with him signing the letter. We’re continuing to look at all positions and again, we’ll see what happens. If they fit, absolutely we’ll pull the trigger. If not, we’ll wait until spring.”
Hoiberg said he doesn’t have a number in mind as far as the final size of his 2023 recruiting class, nor is there a specific position the staff is targeting with the remaining scholarships.
“You’re always looking to add the best talent to your roster,” Hoiberg said. “We feel good right now moving forward with depth at most positions. Eli gives us depth in our backcourt which we’re going to need with Sam [Griesel] and Emmanuel [Bandoumel] moving on. Obviously Derrick [Walker], being his last year, that’s something else we’re looking at with frontcourt players.”
Rice is set to join a backcourt that includes five players with at least two more seasons of eligibility remaining after this year with C.J Wilcher, Denim Dawson, Quaran McPherson, Ramel Lloyd Jr. and Jamarques Lawrence.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.