Boise State's trio of Senior Night honorees mean the world to Leon Rice
The Boise State men’s basketball team has three players who will be honored Tuesday on Senior Night. Nick Duncan, James Reid and Matt Grooms will stand center court prior to a pivotal matchup with Fresno State (8 p.m., CBSSN), flanked by family on all sides.
Duncan, Reid and Grooms each have distinct stories.
Duncan came from Sydney, Australia, and put his name all over the record book in four seasons.
Reid began his career at the College of Southern Idaho, and played a year at Arkansas-Little Rock before deciding he needed a change. After walking on at Boise State and sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, Reid has been a steady influence for a young Broncos (18-9, 11-5) team that needed leaders.
And then there’s Grooms, who was a student at Boise State during the 2015-16 season before deciding to attend open tryouts.
“Senior nights are tough. There’s a lot of emotion, sometimes, around the game,” head coach Leon Rice said. “Those guys, like I said, mean so much to the team and provide so much, but on such a mature level, that I’m going really to miss that.”
From: Sydney, Australia
BSU career: Four seasons, 8.7 ppoints per game, 235 career 3-pointers (No. 4 in school history).
Why Boise State? “I just think it was a blend of the coaching staff, and obviously (assistant coach and Australia-native John) Rillie. ... Coming over here on my visit, I went to a game, it was a sold-out game against New Mexico. ... All the people here, as well. The community, how close this town is and how much they love Boise State. ... It was kind of a no-brainer at the time. ... I kind of knew I was always going to come here.”
Best Rice story: “We have a pretty special relationship when it comes to that, a lot different than other programs. ... I think just him not being able to spell. There’s just some things he writes on the board and I’m like, ‘Coach, that’s not how you spell it.’ .... There’s been five-plus times where he’s done that. ... But he tells us it’s right in American, and not English.”
Favorite moment: “Winning the Mountain West championship on Senior Night (in 2015). ... To be able to win that championship, and not many people thought we would, so I think that was probably one of the better moments. My favorite game was probably San Diego State down there (2016), hitting the (go-ahead) three and breaking that record they had (of winning 164 games in a row after leading with five minutes left).”
From: Bend, Ore.
BSU career: One season, 9.9 points per game.
What will it be like to stand center court with family? “It’s definitely the culmination of a moment, a lot of moments. Being at CSI, driving through Boise when you leave for college, kind of the irony of ending up there is special. I was on my way to the gym today thinking of all my teammates, teams and basketball moments I’ve had since I started college. And to be a day away from Senior Night is pretty special.”
Best Rice story: “The other day we were talking about a mind-over-matter type deal. And he informed us that he ran a 5:45 mile. ... And how he didn’t think he could do it. But he just got on there and told himself, ‘I’m not stopping.’ So the next day at the gym I called him ‘Lefontaine,’ a little praise to one his idols back in Eugene (Steve Prefontaine).”
Future plans: “Coaching is more of a long term deal. (I’m) definitely going to keep playing as long as I can. I like the game too much to hang it up on a whim like that. There’s beauty in all of it. To travel the world’s a goal anyway. To have someone pay you to do it is a no-brainer.”
Year: Redshirt junior (he’s being honored, leaving the program after this season).
From: Meridian (Rocky Mountain High)
BSU career: One season, 5 minutes played, no points.
Why forgo the final year of eligibility? “School-wise, I don’t really know what else I would do. ... It was kind of always my plan to go four years and be done, start paying off (loans). That’s really the main reason.”
How has the ride been? “It’s been crazy, and it’s been quick, too. At first I thought it was going to be kind of a long deal, especially with my role. It’s hard some days. But, man, it went by quick and it’s been a blast. I’ve learned a lot of things, not just basketball, but life in general. It’s been a great ride.”
Future plans: “I’m fighting fires again for the Forest Service this summer. ... (And) I’ve always thought about trying to be a personal trainer or something like that. So that might be something I’d look into. But just kind of living life and going with the flow right now.”
Fresno State at Boise State
- When: 8 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Taco Bell Arena (12,480), Boise
- Records: Boise State (18-9, 11-5 MW); Fresno State (17-11, 9-7)
- Broadcast: CBS Sports Network (Cable One 139/1139, Dish 158, DirecTV 221)
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM (Bob Behler, Abe Jackson), broncosports.com
- Vegas line: Boise State by 5
- Last meeting: Fresno State won at home 89-80 on Jan. 14.
- Tickets: $10 (adults), $9 (seniors) and $8 (juniors) at the Taco Bell Arena box office and broncosports.com/tickets.
- BSU women: Broncos (20-7, 10-6 MW) at Fresno State (15-12, 8-8), 8 p.m. Tuesday (KTIK 1350 AM)