The commitment of George Washington III last November figured to make Lawrent Rice’s potential path to Ohio State a bit more difficult.
Both combo guards targeted by the Buckeye coaching staff in the class of 2023, Washington made his decision early, potentially eliminating the need for a similar player as the first Ohio State commit in the cycle. Rice, who hails from Wayne High School in Dayton, Ohio, may have had to reshuffle his priorities if the three-star, top-150 prospect had the Buckeyes as his leader in the pack.
That may still be the case. But plainly evident when watching the pair – now AAU teammates for All-Ohio Red following Washington’s recent move to Ohio – is that both can coexist on the court quite seamlessly, and their on-floor chemistry might just increase the likelihood that each player ends up in scarlet and gray after all.
“I love what we’re building right now. We can both play off the ball, we can both bring it up. It’s really a match made in heaven, to be honest,” Rice told Eleven Warriors at the second session of Nike EYBL play in April. “It takes the pressure off of both of us, we also have other pieces that can bring it up too. We have all the pieces that we need to make this run.”
Rice, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, said the Buckeye coaching staff has actually upped its communicative efforts with him since making some changes in the early offseason, including the addition of former Miami (Ohio) head coach Jack Owens to Chris Holtmann’s cabinet. Rice plans to take another visit to Columbus soon.
With Washington already committed and Ohio State pursuing fellow in-state All-Ohio Red standouts Devin Royal (Pickerington Central) and Dailyn Swain (Africentric), there isn’t likely to be room for all of them in Holtmann’s 2023 class. But that hasn’t stopped Rice and the others from discussing the possibility of banding together at the next level.
“I’ve talked to Coach Owens a couple times over the phone, getting that relationship built back up with them and things like that. They want me to get back down there on campus pretty soon, so that’s pretty good,” Rice said. “My guy George, I know he’s committed there, and then Dev and Dailyn, they’re all getting recruited by them. It’d be nice to have us all down there on the same campus, maybe eventually even playing on that same team. … We talk about it a lot, going to the same college and things like that. It would be fun to play with each other.”
All-Ohio Red is 4-4 through eight games and two sessions in the EYBL circuit, with the third coming up in Louisville on May 28. Two wins into the Indianapolis session, Rice said the group felt confident playing as a unit right away despite multiple new roster additions, including Washington, and it has its sights set on taking home some hardware later in the summer.
“I think it’s going real good, we’re getting used to playing with each other, we got a couple new pieces. I know these pieces that we do have, it’s what we need to win the Peach Jam, which is our main goal,” Rice said. “But really we’re just working, getting better every week and every day, so that’s really it for this summer. We’re just trying to get better.”
At the time of the interview, Rice said he hadn’t gone on any college visits recently, although he said he would set visits with both Ohio State and Rutgers, which extended him an offer in April among other schools.
Rice will still have another high school season beyond this summer’s AAU circuit to help improve his recruiting stock, should he wait that long to commit to a program. Rice expects his senior year with Wayne to be an improvement on the team’s most recent campaign, in which the Warriors went 17-7 and lost to Fairfield in their third playoff matchup.
Rice had a stellar season individually, earning second-team all-state honors for his efforts, but still hopes he has achieved more by this time next year.
“I love playing with those guys, we had a lot of young guys, guys that haven’t played varsity basketball before. So the season was a learning time for all of us,” Rice said. “It was a good time for me to build my leadership skills for the next level and things like that. It was a good thing for me to showcase that I can run a team on my own. But I love those guys. It was good to just play with them and things like that. A lot of people didn’t think we’d get to where we got to, so we surprised a lot of people, which is good. But it’s still work to be done, so we’re just trying to get better.”
Rice showed the ability to hit open threes, frequently knife into the lane to create his own shot and also set up offense for others in Indianapolis, and he said slashing to the rim and hitting catch-and-shoot threes are his two top priorities when it comes to areas of improvement this summer.
“At the next level, those guys are way bigger, stronger, faster, things like that,” Rice said. “Just to be able to have that ability to finish over those big guys, that’s just another aspect of my game that I work on that I think coaches will love about me. That’s just really it.”
Rice named a top-eight schools list back in January that included Ohio State, but he said at the time that he was open to new schools entering the mix, and that still seems be the case. Rice isn’t setting any timetable for further decisions for now, preferring to keep his attentions turned toward the hardwood while the recruiting process continues.
“With all these coaching changes and things like that, I’m letting it come to me,” Rice said. “I’m just focusing on hoops right now.”