In some sad and shocking news, New York City basketball powerhouse Rice High School, home to hoops stars such as Kemba Walker, Andre Barrett, Felipe Lopez and Kenny Satterfield, is shutting down in June. The former three-way power struggle between Rice, Christ the King and St. Raymond is now down to two. The announcement was made to students this morning.
Kashif Pratt, a former Rice and Seton Hall player, left a lasting impact on the school’s basketball program. On March 12, 2006, Pratt created the ultimate highlight for his senior year by hitting the game-winning layup against Christ the King in the Catholic High School Athletic Association championship game. The news this morning was devastating to him. Pratt’s hope, however, has not dwindled. In a phone interview this afternoon, he indicated that this might not be the end of the road for Rice.
“The school might be possibly reopening in a different location,” he said. “We’re calling investors, alumni, families companies, and we’re reaching out to Nike, the biggest shoe company in the world, seeing if they can help. We’re even reaching out to former NBA players who have played against Rice. Hopefully we’ll contact Felipe Lopez, who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.”
Although the basketball legacy of Rice is well-known, Pratt rightly insists that it’s all about the kids.
“When I went there, there were a lot of kids who weren’t really into school,” he said. “Rice was a place where kids who never thought they were going to college went to college.”
In terms of the current basketball players and where they’ll end up next season, Pratt does not have the brightest outlook.
“It’ll be hard for them to go to other schools,” he said. “Some of the big name schools already have established teams, so they’re not going to go after these guys. They’ll probably be forced to go out of town to another school. It’s just not fair, because they won’t get the same recognition as they would at Rice High School. Kids at Rice that averaged six points a game were getting college scholarships.”
The closing of Rice will also heavily alter the CHSAA’s power dynamic now that one of its staples will no longer be competing. Yet instead of another powerhouse school developing, Pratt sees the league’s future in a different light.
“It’s gonna affect the Catholic League negatively,” he said. “It’s like taking the bottom team of the NBA D-League and bringing them into the NBA.”
Ultimately, Pratt believes that there’s no way that Rice will disappear from the basketball community.
“You got great players all around New York City, but there’s no way you can talk about New York Basketball without talking about Rice.”
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