Following his most succesful season to-date where he guided the Hawks to the program's most wins in nearly a decade, King Rice, a former point guard under Hall of Fame Head Coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina, returns to the Monmouth University bench for his fifth season with the Blue & White.
Rice, who was named a finalist for the 2015 Ben Jobe National Coach of the Year Award, led the Hawks to an 18-15 overall record (the most wins since 2005-06) and a 13-7 mark in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action, which resulted in the No. 4 seed in the league postseason. The Hawks, who advanced to the conference semifinals in just their second season in the league, put a pair of guards on all-conference teams and held 26 of their opponents to 70 points or less.
In 2014-15, which saw Monmouth earn its most conference victories in 10 years, the Hawks placed sophomore guard Justin Robinson on the All-MAAC First Team (and the NABC All-District Second Team) and junior guard Deon Jones on the All-MAAC Third Team, while senior guard Andrew Nicholas was honored as the league's Sixth Man of the Year. Prior to opening the 2014-15 campaign at West Virginia, Rice was rewarded with a contract extension, which extended his contract to 2019.
Rice, whose roster featured nine first-year players and no seniors in 2013-14, guided the Hawks into their first season in the MAAC, where the Blue & White claimed the No. 9 seed in the league's postseason. In his first two seasons in the league, Monmouth has outperformed its preseason coaches poll prognostication, as the Hawks were selected sixth prior to 2014-15 and finished the regular season in a tie for third place, with eventual tournament champion Manhattan.
Rice, who firmly believes in playing top tier competition throughout the nation (MU played five nationally-ranked opponents in the last four seasons), was named the head men’s basketball coach at Monmouth University on March 30, 2011, and became the fifth head coach in the history of the Monmouth men’s basketball program.
In 2013-14, paced by one of the highest scoring duos in program history in Jones and Nicholas, the Hawks posted an 11-21 overall record, which included the championship trophy in the regional pod of the Barclays Center Classic, and the team's highest scoring average in 13 years.
The Hawks started the 2012-13 campaign with a 5-3 record before finishing their final season in the Northeast Conference with an overall mark of 10-21 and 5-13 in league play. Monmouth, which ranked near the top of the league in steals and turnover margin, capped its season with forward Ed Waite scoring his 1,000th career point and guard Jesse Steele writing his name all over the record books in just two and half seasons.
In his first season with the Blue and White, Rice made an immediate impact on the program, leading the Hawks to a fifth place tie in the league standings. The year, the Hawks finished 12-20 overall, but finished the year winners of nine of their last 12 games to claim a 10-8 league mark and grab the No. 6 seed in the conference postseason, while Dion Nesmith became the 17th Monmouth player to earn NEC All-Rookie Team accolades in program history. The Hawks, who played three nationally-ranked teams during the year, and competed in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, initiated an up-tempo style of play, which then generated the team’s highest scoring average since the 2003-04 campaign.
A native of Binghamton, N.Y. and a 1992 graduate of North Carolina, Rice had 13 seasons of experience in the collegiate coaching ranks, 10 of which came with current Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. For the previous five seasons before joining the Hawks, Rice was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt, where the Commodores made the NCAA Tournament four of those years out of the Southeastern Conference.
Rice, 47, served as an assistant to Stallings for five seasons at Illinois State from 1994-98, helping the Redbirds advance to postseason play four times, including two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Rice helped spearhead recruiting efforts and was noted for his solid relationships with players.
Prior to his stint in Normal, Ill., Rice began his coaching career as an assistant on Jerry Green’s Oregon staff during the 1993 campaign. Following his five seasons with Stallings at Illinois State, Rice was an assistant for two years (1999-2000) at Providence under Tim Welsh.
As a point guard at North Carolina from 1988-91, Rice played for legendary coach Dean Smith, helping the Tar Heels to a 29-6 overall mark and appearance at the 1991 NCAA Final Four. He finished his career ranked third on the Tar Heels’ all-time assist list with 629, and that mark ranks 11th all-time in Atlantic Coast Conference annals. Rice, who was a team captain in 1990-91 alongside Pete Chilcut and Rick Fox, earned North Carolina’s Carmichael-Cobb Award (team’s outstanding defensive player) as a junior, and as a senior was tabbed the Foy Roberson Award recipient as the team’s Most Inspirational Player.
Rice, who played in 140 career games for the Tar Heels and once had 13 assists in a single-game versus Kentucky, earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from North Carolina in 1992.
Rice also served as head coach of the Bahamian National team for three seasons from 2001-2004.
Along with UNC teammate Fox, Rice formed CarolinaPros, Inc., in 1998. The service organization currently sponsors a variety of community-based events and provides assistance through mentoring programs, scholarships, skill development and donor education.
Rice also worked as a professional trainer to Fox for five years. Fox played 13 seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers from 1992-2004.
A 1987 McDonald’s High School All-American, Rice is married to Summer and the couple has two sons, Alexander and Julian James.
The Rice File
PROFESSIONAL COACHING EXPERIENCE
2011-Present: Head Coach, Monmouth University (West Long Branch, N.J.)
2006-2011: Assistant Coach, Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.)
2001-2004: Head Coach, Bahamian National Team
1999-2000: Assistant Coach, Providence College (Providence, R.I.)
1993-1998: Assistant Coach, Illinois State University (Normal, Ill.)
1992-1993: Assistant Coach, University of Oregon (Eugene, Ore.)
Birth Date: December 14, 1968 in Binghamton, N.Y.
High School: Binghamton H.S. (N.Y.)
College: University of North Carolina; B.A. Communications, 1992
Children: Sons, Alexander and Julian James
NCAA POSTSEASON APPEARANCES
As an assistant coach (8):
NCAA (Illinois State 1997, 1998, Vanderbilt 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011)
NIT (Illinois State 1995, 1996)
As a player (4):
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 (North Carolina 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 [Final Four])
ACC Tournament Championship Teams (1989, 1991)
WHAT'S BEEN SAID ABOUT KING RICE
"We want to congratulate King and his family for this great opportunity to be a collegiate head coach. He brought a tremendous amount of energy, liveliness, hard work, and dedication to his position here at Vanderbilt, and I believe those attributes will make him a very successful head coach at Monmouth. We wish him, his wife Summer, and their son Alexander all of the best in their future endeavors."
- Kevin Stallings, Head Coach, Vanderbilt University
"I am ecstatic for King and the Monmouth basketball program. He will do a great job there. He was a coach on the floor as a player and has always thought like a coach. He is ready to be a head coach. I'm confident that Monmouth will look upon this as a great day in its basketball program's history."
- Roy Williams, Head Coach, University of North Carolina
"King Rice is a great hire for Monmouth. His teams will be well prepared, play hard and will take on all the competitive qualities he had as a player and has as a coach. His players will not only be prepared for victory on the court but also educated for a successful life after the ball stops bouncing!"
- Jeff Lebo, Head Coach, East Carolina University