The future of Boise State basketball will be shaped in coming weeks as coach Leon Rice and junior forward James Webb III face opportunities to leave the program.
Rice has interviewed at Saint Louis and remains one of the Billikens’ top choices, the Statesman reported Sunday.
Webb declared for the NBA Draft on Sunday, the first time that’s happened in school history, but will not immediately sign with an agent, giving him the opportunity to potentially return to school.
Here are the pros and cons of each potential move for the Broncos’ coach and their best player:
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▪ Pros: Saint Louis paid coach Jim Crews at least $850,000 annually before he was fired earlier this month, and that was in 2013-14, the last reported salary obtained from the private school. Rice is slated to make $650,000 next season. ... The Atlantic 10 put four teams in the NCAA Tournament and three in the NIT. The Mountain West had just one in each. ... A Jesuit-affiliated school that does not have a football team, SLU has some similarities to Gonzaga, where Rice spent more than a decade as an assistant coach.
▪ Cons: Rice, outside of two seasons at Northern Colorado from 1992-94, has never coached east of Boise. ... Even with Webb’s potential departure, the Broncos have some young potential in the likes of Paris Austin and Chandler Hutchison, along with signee Alex Hobbs. ... The Billikens will be in rebuilding mode after back-to-back 11-21 seasons, losing their top scorer and potentially adjusting to a new system. They shot 607 3s last year; Boise State took 788.
▪ Stats: Rice is 122-75 with three postseason appearances in six seasons at Boise State.
JAMES WEBB III
▪ Pros: There’s little doubt the 6-foot-9 Webb’s athleticism is NBA-caliber, and he’s raw enough to give teams some creativity in how to make him fit. ... Webb turns 23 in August, making him possibly one of the older players in the draft, even with a year left of eligibility. The time to strike may be now. ... Webb’s inside play improved last season, and he often thrived despite even more focus from defenders. ... His talents could lend well to catching eyes at pre-draft workouts.
▪ Cons: Webb’s 3-point shot fell off a cliff, going from 40.9 percent as a sophomore to 24.8 last season. If he comes back and shoots better, he’ll be an even more interesting prospect. ... At 202 pounds, he could stand to spend another year working out hard, building up weight to handle the rigors of the NBA. ... If he stays in the draft, being picked in the second round does not guarantee a contract, and going undrafted could be a difficult path.
▪ Stats: Webb is averaging 13.5 points and 8.6 rebounds in 63 games at Boise State.