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Penn State hoops lands sophomore transfer wing Eli Rice

nate-mug-10.12.14by:Nate Bauer04/18/24


Penn State basketball has picked up its third commitment of the 2024 transfer portal cycle. Announcing his decision via Instagram, Eli Rice, a 6-foot-8, 213-pound wing who spent his first season at Nebraska, will play for head coach Mike Rhoades and the Nittany Lions next season.

“Right My Wrongs! COMMITTED! Let’s Work! #WeAre#BetOnMe,” Rice wrote on Instagram.

Rice joins forwards Yanic Konan Niederhauser and Kachi Nzeh to commit to the Nittany Lions this cycle. One more vacant scholarship remains to be filled.

Eli Rice backstory

Rice entered the transfer portal following one season at Nebraska in which he logged 4.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 9.8 minutes over 17 games. Originally committing to the Cornhuskers out of IMG Academy, Rice carried a three-star status with the No. 270 overall national ranking in the Class of 2023. 

He also was pursued heavily by Rhoades and his VCU coaching staff before taking the Penn State job. So, once he entered the transfer portal on March 25, the Nittany Lion coaching staff soon re-established a connection and built the relationship from there.

“They’ve kind of always seen my potential and what I can do. And they know that my season in Nebraska last year, they’ve been telling me that wasn’t a representation of how good I am and what I can do,” said Rice. “Once I hit the portal, they were one of the first teams to call because they know. They’ve seen me grow up and my development. So they know firsthand I didn’t get to show half of what I could do.”

Continuing, Rice explained the type of player that could be. Confident in his versatility and toughness, he described a game translates to the Big Ten.

“I’m someone that is versatile as a three-level scorer and an efficient scorer. And at the same time, I can make plays and get my teammates involved. A great rebounder, always. A great rebounder and a good defender,” he said. “It’s important a lot because I have experience in the Big Ten. Whoever won the rebounding battle was usually winning the game. That’s a big part of Big Ten basketball.”

Finding fit at Penn State

Narrowing his two schools to Middle Tennessee State, about an hour from his hometown of Gallatin, Tenn., Rice ultimately picked Penn State having left his visit taking away positive impressions of the entire Nittany Lion organization.

Impressed by the program’s facilities, its campus, and ultimately the players and coaching staff he’d be playing alongside and under, his favorable takeaways from the trip were plentiful.

“Coach Rhoades and the Penn State players are always gonna go hard in whatever they do,” Rice said. “I talked to all of them and they were all welcoming. It was all nice. Great vibes. Hard working vibes.”

Where things stand for Penn State (12 of 13 scholarships projected filled)

Guards Ace BaldwinJahvin Carter, D’Marco DunnDominick Stewart
Wings Nick KernZach HicksPuff JohnsonHudson Ward, Eli Rice
Bigs Miles GoodmanKachi NzehYanic Konan Niederhauser

Penn State scholarship breakdown by class

Bonus year (2): Ace BaldwinPuff Johnson
Fourth year (3): Nick Kern, Zach Hicks, D’Marco Dunn
Third year (1): Yanic Konan Niederhauser
Second year (1): Kachi Nzeh, Eli Rice
First year (4): Jahvin CarterMiles GoodmanDominick StewartHudson Ward

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