Monmouth University: Dominant All-Shore Backcourt Propels Monmouth Basketball Soaring

Rising Stars: Xander Rice, Jakari Spence, and Jack Collins

Monmouth University : In the heart of Monmouth University’s basketball resurgence, a trio of local talents—Xander Rice, Jakari Spence, and Jack Collins—has emerged as the driving force behind the team’s improved performance. As Monmouth seeks to surpass last season’s achievements, the on-court chemistry of this dynamic backcourt will be instrumental in determining the Hawks Ascend’ success.

A Shared Journey from Mid Monmouth League to Monmouth University

Xander Rice reflects on the early days when he faced off against Jakari Spence in the Mid Monmouth League during fifth and sixth grade. Meanwhile, Jack Collins, a younger player, gained familiarity with both Rice and Spence through his Manasquan High School team’s encounters with Toms River North at venues like the HoopGroup in Neptune.

Now, united under the Monmouth University banner, these childhood connections have translated into a formidable on-court partnership. The trio’s shared experiences growing up in the same region have fostered a sense of camaraderie, a crucial element in their success on the court.

Monmouth University : Statistical Dominance: Beyond Points to Assists and Rebounds

The statistical impact of Rice, Spence, and Collins on the court is undeniable. Together, they contribute an impressive 35.9 points per game, showcasing not only their scoring prowess but also their ability to create opportunities for teammates. With 8.1 assists and 11.4 rebounds collectively, their all-around contributions highlight the versatility that defines Monmouth’s playing style.

Xander Rice, a graduate transfer guard from Bucknell, has proven himself as a scoring force, averaging 18.9 points—a remarkable feat ranking third in the Coastal Athletic Association. Collins, recognized on the CAA All-Rookie team last season, follows closely with 11.2 points per game and 6.0 rebounds. Spence, a senior walk-on, not only adds 5.5 points to the scoreboard but also leads the team in steals, showcasing his defensive prowess.

Leadership and Unity: Xander Rice’s Impact

Beyond individual accomplishments, the leadership of Xander Rice has played a pivotal role in the team’s cohesion. Arriving a month early, Rice demonstrated not only his skills on the court but also a strong work ethic and a genuine commitment to the team’s success. His influence extends beyond statistics; he is a leader who has inspired his teammates to unite and strive for collective success.

Head coach King Rice acknowledges Rice’s leadership, stating, “He’s a leader, and those guys follow him.” Jakari Spence’s contribution is also highlighted, with plans for him to receive a scholarship next year, recognizing his significant role in the team’s improvement.

Local Roots: Monmouth University’s Unique Connection to Jersey Shore

Monmouth’s success story takes a unique turn as it becomes closely entwined with the talent produced by the Jersey Shore. With seven local players, including walk-ons, the team’s roster reflects a commitment to nurturing talent from Monmouth and Ocean counties. This emphasis on local representation adds a special dimension to the team’s identity and underscores the rich basketball talent in the region.

Jack Collins expresses the significance of representing his hometown, stating, “So representing my town and the Shore is a big thing.” The team’s reliance on local talent puts a spotlight on the caliber of players emerging from the Monmouth and Ocean counties, breaking new ground in the team’s history.

Coaching Amidst Adversity: Remembering Friends and Facing Challenges

As Monmouth pursues success on the court, head coach King Rice grapples with personal losses. The recent passing of former North Carolina teammate Eric Montross, and the loss of a close friend and high school teammate, Randy Wimberly, weigh heavily on Rice’s heart. Despite facing these challenges, Rice remains focused on leading his team to victory.

Monmouth University vs. Manhattan

Monmouth’s upcoming challenge against Manhattan adds another layer of intrigue to the narrative. With Manhattan in its first season under coach John Gallagher, the game holds significance for both teams. Former Monmouth assistant coach Steve Masiello’s departure from Manhattan before the season adds an element of familiarity and rivalry to the matchup.

King Rice acknowledges Manhattan’s strategic prowess, noting their diverse defensive strategies designed to keep opponents off balance. As Monmouth aims for victory against Manhattan, the game promises to be a test of skill and strategy for both teams.

In conclusion, the Monmouth University basketball team’s journey, led by the dynamic trio of Rice, Spence, and Collins, is not only a testament to their individual talents but also a celebration of the rich basketball culture in the Jersey Shore region. As they navigate the challenges of the season, the team’s unity, local representation, and leadership will undoubtedly shape their path to success.

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