2020-21 season preview
Jabari Rice and New Mexico State had to relocate to Phoenix to prepare for the 2020-21 season. Courtesy NMSU Athletics.

WAC Player of the Year Candidate – Jabari Rice, New Mexico State

As the 2020-21 college basketball season gets closer to tipping off, one name WAC fans should get to know is Jabari Rice. The New Mexico State junior guard returns after earning first team All-WAC honors in 2019-20. 

Rice had a breakout sophomore season averaging 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game for the Aggies. In fact, Rice led the Aggies in total points (384), free throws made (86), and free throw percentage (.827). And the Houston native was second on the team in scoring, total minutes, minutes per game and three-pointers made. 

Rice started 19 of the Aggies’ 31 games and earned WAC Player of the Week honors on January 13, 2020. That award came after Rice led New Mexico State to a pair of wins over Chicago State and Kansas City. Rice had 14 points and three rebounds against the Cougars and recorded a double-double against Kansas City with 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with six assists. 

Jans Excited About the Competitiveness

Leading up to the 2020-21 season, head coach Chris Jans is even more excited about his junior guard. 

“I was right for once,” Jans said in a recent episode of the WAC Hoops Digest podcast. “It doesn’t happen very often but I’m gonna remind people that I predicted that outbreak. Just more consistency. Obviously he’s got to stay injury-free. But I just want him to be more consistent and just build off what he did last year.”

Since Rice arrived in Las Cruces, Jans knew he had a promising career in front of him.

“He just has great energy,” Jans said. “He’s always one of, if not the, hardest playing guy on the court. And for me, what I think influences winning, that’s a pretty good start. His competitive nature is off the charts. He’s in the elite level of competitors that I’ve ever coached.”

During his sophomore season, Rice appeared in 31 of 34 games off the bench, starting five. Rice had a season-high 10 points against Drake on Dec. 22, 2018 and tied that season-high against Chicago State on Feb. 2, 2019. 

Calling Game

Rice hit one of the biggest shots of his career in a win over Utah Valley on Feb. 15, 2020. With the Aggies trailing 82-81 after a pair of TJ Washington free throws gave the Wolverines the lead, Rice decided to call game. 

Here is Jabari Rice talking with New Mexico State play by play analyst Adam Young about the 2020-21 season. 

Rice has a big time supporting cast in 2020-21. Johnny McCants returns and is a dark horse for WAC Player of the Year honors. Evan Gilyard returns and the Aggies are 19-0 since Gilyard stepped on the floor in December, 2019. Clayton Henry returns after sitting out the 2019-20 season due to injury. UNLV and Utah transfer Donnie Tillman is set to have a big season for the Aggies. 

So, there will be no creeping up on anyone in 2020-21. Jabari Rice is a top candidate for WAC Player of the Year and his role is only going to increase now that Trevelin Queen and Terrell Brown are no longer in Las Cruces. 

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to WAC Hoops Digest

Enter your email address to subscribe to WAC Hoops Digest so you never miss a beat.

Click Here to Get Your NBA Gear

Enjoy Las Vegas

Buy and Sell Your Tickets with StubHub

Get Your MLB Gear at the MLB Shop

Book with Expedia.com

Book a Stay with Hotels.com

%d bloggers like this: