NC State basketball transfer player MJ Rice explains his notable absences this summer

N.C. State men’s basketball temporarily lost a new addition to the 2023-24 roster in the offseason, but he is expected to return.

Transfer M.J. Rice temporarily stepped away from basketball, he publicly announced Tuesday afternoon. Rice, however, confirmed he remains with the program. Rumors began over the summer, stating he was no longer with the team.

“My commitment to N.C. State has not changed,” Rice wrote in a statement. “I appreciate everything Coach (Kevin) Keatts and his staff have done for me. For personal reasons, I needed to step away from basketball for a period of time but excited to be back with my teammates soon.”

Rice committed to the Wolfpack in April, coming to Raleigh from the Kansas Jayhawks.

N.C. State men’s basketball players, from left, Breon Pass, Casey Morsell, KJ Keatts, Michael O’Connell, Jordan Snell, Jayden Taylor, Alex Nunnally, Ben Middlebrooks, DJ Horne, DJ Burns, Mohamed Diarra, Dennis Parker, Jr., Kam Woods, Ernest Ross and LJ Thomas respond to the crowd as they are introduced during the Wolfpack’s football game against VMI at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

The Henderson native, who played his first two high school seasons at Durham Academy, played in 23 games for Kansas last season, averaging 7.6 minutes per appearance. He totaled 51 points, 24 rebounds, seven steals and two blocks in his rookie campaign.

Rice did not appear with the Pack on Sept. 16, when the team was introduced at the football game against VMI nor has he been featured in N.C. State social media posts since July, leading to the questions about his participation.

According to his Instagram account, the sophomore has been working out with NBA trainer Marcus Hodges.

A Sports Illustrated scouting report lists Rice as a potential second-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Rice attended Prolific Prep in Napa, California, for his senior season. He averaged 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists during the 2021-22 season. That success earned him a McDonald’s All-America nod.

He also played at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his junior season, averaging 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per contest.

Coming out of high school, he was a four-star recruit and one of the best players in the nation. ranked him at No. 28. 247Sports and ESPN listed him at No. 29 and 30, respectively.