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2018-19 Player Preview: The Rise of Zykera Rice

After a breakout junior season, Rice could become a superstar as a senior

Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review

You may know Zykera Rice by her outgoing personality, her hustle on the court, and that intoxicating blue hair. But you should also know her as one of the biggest breakout players in the country last season. And now as a senior, Rice is poised to become a star.

After seeing limited minutes as a freshman and sophomore, Rice moved into the starting lineup last season and became a reliable scorer next to Jill Barta in the frontcourt. Rice averaged 11.7 ppg over 33 games (32 starts) after averaging just 4.4 ppg as a sophomore.

At one point in the season, Rice put up double-figures in 19 consecutive games. The 6’1” athletic forward led the team with a 49.7 FG%, which is the seventh best mark in program history. In the WCC Title game against San Deigo, Rice went 7-for-7 from the field and was named to the all-tournament team to go along with her second team All-WCC honor.

Off the court, Rice graduated this past spring with a degree in international relations and a concentration in Arabic. Rice is fluent in English and Spanish already, and wants to be fluent in Arabic before moving on to another langue to memorize. She has started her Master’s program this summer.

In terms of the coming season, Rice will be graduating from role player to superstar. After Jill Barta left a year early to pursue a professional career, Rice is the top returning scorer. She brings a wide variety of post moves to the table, a soft touch from mid-range, and a good report with fellow senior starters Laura Stockton and Chandler Smith.

The biggest question will be how she responds to being the primary focal point for defenses this season. Last year, Jill Barta took a lot of double teams and Rice was the beneficiary of that. This year, Rice will be seeing the extra attention, especially since Gonzaga will be using several underclassmen at the other forward spot. With her consistent growth the last three years and her incredible efficiency, there’s no reason to believe Rice can’t become a 14 point-7 rebound type performer this season.

Women’s Fanfest will be October 13. Our women’s player previews will continue on Thursday with incoming freshman Kylee Griffen.