Who’s Kiki Rice? Know All About The 19YO UCLA Star Making Waves in NCAA

Published 11/25/2023, 7:59 AM EST

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The No. 2 UCLA Bruins upset No. 6 UConn 78-67 on Friday night in the Cayman Islands Classic, marking the program’s first-ever victory against the Huskies. Despite a couple of good runs, including Paige Bueckers’ 31 points, the Huskies dropped their second loss of the season. An UCLA guard emerged as the difference-maker of the match by scoring a near triple-double. Kiki Rice had a breakout game with a career-high 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

A sophomore at UCLA, Kiki Rice ascended to become the program’s highest-ranked recruit of all time. She was a five-star recruit, the second-best player, and the top point guard in the 2022 class.

Roots and Rise of Kiki Rice


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Rice comes from an athletic background, and basketball runs through her blood. Her brother Teo and father John both played basketball for Yale throughout their collegiate years. Her mother, Andrea, who played tennis, attended the same college. Susan Rice, a diplomat and Allan Houston’s NBA cousin, is Rice’s aunt.


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Rice played basketball for Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. During her freshman season, she averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game, helping her team reach the state tournament quarterfinals. In her sophomore season, Rice averaged 26.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. It was her team’s first DCSAA Class AA championship and ISL triumph. Rice was selected Gatorade Athlete of the Year, Morgan Wootten National Players of the Year, and Naismith Prep Player of the Year in addition to Gatorade National Players of the Year.

The opportunity to help lead a team to its first Final Four and national championship lured her to UCLA. Rice scored 12 points and had seven assists in UCLA’s 84-48 win over Cal Poly on November 7, 2022. On March 3, 2023, she produced a season-high 22 points as her team defeated Stanford 69-65 in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. She was named to the Pac-12 All-Rookie Team as a rookie after averaging 11.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game.


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A tall stature on the national team

Rice averaged 7.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game to help the US under-16 national team win gold at the 2019 FIBA Under-16 Americas Championship in Chile. She led the United States under-18 national team to a gold medal in the 2022 FIBA under-18 Americas Championship in Argentina.

Rice was voted tournament MVP after averaging 14.3 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. She won gold in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Spain in 2023, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.


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Watch This Story: Sending Shockwaves in the Basketball World Know 18yo Milaysia Fulwileys Story

Stats apart, her sensational performance against the Huskies has already put her in a league of the rising college stars creating commotion on the court this season.


Written by:

Nima Murugan


One take at a time

Nima Murugan is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. With a Master's in English Literature, she provides detailed analysis of the games. Nima developed an interest in the NBA after witnessing the greatness of LeBron James and she continues to support the Los Angeles Lakers with passion.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo