Associate Head Coach
Leon Rice LEON RICE has been a part of Gonzaga University’s continued rise on the collegiate basketball scene, entering his 11th year on head coach Mark Few’s staff. When Few became head coach his first call was to Rice to join his staff and he didn’t hesitate answering Few’s call. Rice’s hiring on July 30, 1999, completed Few’s inaugural staff, and on April 12, 2007, Rice was named associate head coach. Since becoming a Bulldog, Rice has contributed to the wildest ride in Gonzaga’s storied basketball history. In his 10 seasons Rice has been a major part of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Sweet 16 berths in 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009; a NCAA berth in 2002, 2007 and 2008; a 2003 NCAA second-round appearance that ended with a thrilling, albeit disappointing, 96-95 double-overtime loss to top-seeded University of Arizona and second-round rides again in 2004 and ’05. The Bulldogs finished the 2004 season ranked third in the final Associated Press Top 25, and followed that with a No. 10 ranking in 2005, a No. 5 spot in the final 2006 AP poll and another No. 10 ranking by AP in 2009. “Leon has been a fantastic addition to our staff. To be able to get someone with as much experience as Leon has recruiting on the road and knowing the ins and outs of the Northwest was a big advantage for us,” Few said. “Plus, he was a great fit for our staff and our team. We didn’t miss a beat with him joining our program. He has a high level of enthusiasm and is very positive. He continues to help this program grow and prosper.” Gonzaga is 264-66 in Rice’s tenure, including a school-best 29-4 record in 2002 – a record that was matched in 2006 – and a No. 6 ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs received their best-ever seed into the 2004 NCAA Tournament at No. 2. Rice joined the Bulldogs from Yakima Valley College where he served two seasons as an assistant coach and one as co-head coach with the legendary Dean Nicholson, then served as head coach for the 1998-99 campaign. YVC went from worst to first in the first season of the Rice-Nicholson partnership, and in 1999 YVC went 31-2 in capturing its fourth straight Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Eastern Region title. The 31 wins were a school record and came four seasons after Rice and Nicholson inherited a program which had gone 3-20 overall during the 1994-95 season. YVC went a perfect 12-0 in the NWAACC in 1999 and Rice earned his second straight Eastern Region Coach of the Year honor.
GONZAGA MEN’S ’ BASKETBALL 2009-10
Published on Nov 18, 2009