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Myles Rice: A Coug With A Courageous Tale

The Washington State Cougs have put the college hoops world on notice being tied for second in the Pac-12 (16-6). Many players have contributed to their success but a notable impact is the red-shirt freshman point guard, Myles Rice. His story is one of inspiration, and will make anyone want to go after any obstacle life throws at them. Like any good story though, it starts at the beginning.

Myles Rice was born in South Carolina, but moved to Atlanta, Georgia at a young age. He played basketball as well and recieved many offers, even some to stay at home. "Coming from Atlanta we play a lot of high end basketball against elite competition and elite level players." However, Rice decided to play in Pullman, Washington in 2020. Even though he didn't know much about WSU before he stepped on campus, it felt like a home away from home for him because of the community aspect. "The community welcomed me with open arms and everyone genuinly loves each other and tries to do the best for one another." It took Rice a couple months to get used to the environment, but he adapted to the great family-like community Pullman offers.

His first year of college basketball was one of learning. Since the Cougs competed in a tough PAC-12 conference and had plenty of guard talent, Rice saw this as an opportunity to learn and develop. Leaning on the veterans at WSU helped him approach the game the right way and become a consistent worker. "I had Mike [Michael] Flowers and Ty [Tyrell] Roberts as a freshman and they gave me insights to what they saw on the floor, and how they would read certain situations." Rice praised not only his teammates, but also the coaches for teaching him things his freshman year that he later applied to his game. "Just being able to learn from not only the coaching staff, but my teammates, and taking what they see and implementing it into my game the best way that I could." He had his opportunity with Flowers graduating and Roberts entering the transfer portal, but a devastating diagnosis took that away.

In September of 2022, Rice was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, after a biopsy discovered multiple tumors. A cancer diagnosis is rough for anyone at any age, and unfortunately it costed Rice his second season. Even though he was in disbelief when hearing the catastrophic news, Rice didn't let that detour him from making a return to the court. "You don't really think that someone my age would have cancer, so my first inital reaction was 'how soon can I get back on the court?' because I had a pretty good summer leading up to last season". The journey to get back on the court was harder than the destination, but Rice knew what to do. After accepting his diagnosis he used the same mindset he has when taking the court. "Once I accepted the fact this was for real it just became something that's in the way I gotta attack head on and get through it". With the strength of his "family, and God" as well as the Pullman community, Rice finished his last treatment in March 2023 and is currently in remission.

After redshirting his first two seasons at WSU (medical redshirt in 2022), Rice enters his freshman season but his third year on the Palouse. Even though he is one of the longest tenured Cougs on the roster, he views himself as a veteran in knowing the system but still wanting to gain college basketball experience. "I would just say, just from knowing the game, and knowing that system yes [I'm a veteran], but still being a collegiate basketball player, not yet." Even with the freshman eligibility, he can still be a mentor for the younger players on the team because of the guys he looked up to and the things he learned while they played at WSU. "Having Ty and Mike as my OG's, I'm kind of like the OG for the young guys this year. Just teaching them how to attack practices, go about your business, and giving them as much information as I can because the more you know the better."

This season Rice has gotten off to a roaring start averaging 15.7 points, 3.7 assists, with shooting splits of 46.3/33.3/79.8% as a starter. One particular game he scored a career-high 35 points in a win against Stanford which sparked conference recognition. He's earned individual praise from the conference for contributing to Wazzu's success after winning "Pac-12 Freshman of the Week" five times this season. Rice attributes his success to the team, and given what he's been through he has a lot of gratitude for the people around him. "It wouldn't happen without my team, my coaches, and the people that support me. I thank God I can say I'm blessed to be here whether I have a good game or a bad game as long as we win."

There are many comeback stories in sports, all of them unique. For Rice, his is one of resilience that inspires the Pullman community, the Washington State basketball team, and college basketball fans everywhere.


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