DeMatha to D1: Tyrell Ward and Rodney Rice


William Walker, Staff Writer

The 2022-2023 college basketball season marks the 129th official season of college hoops, making this the 128th time freshmen are recruited to the team in order to replace the previous seniors. These freshmen are expected to maintain or establish a winning culture in their programs, helping their schools to become enticing options for recruits and transfers for the foreseeable future.

Two new players that entered the college basketball scene are DeMatha Alumni Tyrell Ward and Rodney Rice. Last year Ward was listed as a four-star recruit, ranking as the 37th best player in the 2022 recruiting class. Ward originally committed to Xavier, however later decommitted due to a coaching change and eventually found his home at Louisiana State University (LSU). Rice was also listed as a four-star, ending up a few slots behind Ward at 48. Rice transferred to DeMatha his junior year, playing in the final season that legendary coach Mike Jones was at the helm of. Rice followed Coach Jones to his new job and committed to Virginia Tech.

Both Ward and Rice were beloved at DeMatha. Former teammate and current senior Jaden Winston stated that they were “best friends” and that he liked hanging out with them on and off the court. Winston notions that they are great basketball players, and even better people. Senior (and varsity manager) Jordan Gibson agreed with this sentiment as he stated that Ward and Rice were “two great, high-energy guys” that were “great, humble people”. The two basketball studs left a strong impact on the people they interacted with the most.

Currently, Ward and Rice have gotten off to slow starts in their college basketball careers as Ward has played limited minutes in LSU’s first seven games, while Rice has missed all of Virginia Tech’s first eight games due to an ankle injury. Despite this, many people believe that both former faith-filled gentlemen will have prolific college careers. When asked why he believed this, Winston replied that they are both “very dedicated” and “work really hard on [their] crafts.” Winston also added that as their careers progress, their “[roles] will increase” to the point where they can become key players on their respective teams.

Gibson also believes that Ward and Rice will have great college basketball careers due to their “composure” and “their ability to step up when the game matters the most”. One moment where this description was evident was a game they played during DeMatha’s trip to Florida. In that game, both Ward and Rice had over 35 points as the Stags went into four overtime periods. Watching from the bench, Gibson noted how “calm” both Ward and Rice were throughout the game and how their performances “felt like it came straight out of a book”. The type of talent and fortitude displayed by Ward and Rice in that game explains why they were highly sought-after recruits and why they have the ability to perform at the next level.

Ward and Rice have now joined a multitude of former DeMatha alumni who have gone on to play college basketball. Just like all the ones before, all of DeMatha stands by their side as we hope they excel in the next chapter of their academic and athletic careers.