Josh and Jon Rice become the first father-son duo in Eastern Nazarene College history to both score 1,000 points.
There was already plenty to celebrate.
Friday, Nov. 22 was both Jon Rice and his wife Nancy’s birthday. Their son Josh gave them a memorable present — at the place they first met.
Josh, a senior swingman on Eastern Nazarene’s men’s basketball team and 2016 Whitman-Hanson Regional High graduate, entered his game that night against Worcester Polytechnic Institute on the verge of school history. He needed 14 points to join his dad in the college’s 1,000-point club — and to become the first father-son duo in program history to do it.
After hitting four quick 3-pointers, Josh was just two points away. Then, with 5:17 left in the first half, he got a screen, a pass from his teammate Noah Cheney, spotted up from the top of the key and connected on another one from beyond the arc. This one, pushed him over the 1,000-point mark.
“I definitely don’t think I could have asked for a better present,” said his father Jon, who ranks 18th all-time on Eastern Nazarene men’s basketball’s scoring list with 1,226 points that he scored from 1986-90. “And to do it at my alma mater — I’m so proud of Josh.”
Said Josh: “I’m definitely proud of it, especially since it’s the same school that my dad went to. He’s a big reason I went here. It‘s nice for us to have and be able to share that forever together. It was a great feeling — especially for him to be there.”
And it was appropriate for Josh, a Hanson native, to reach the milestone with a 3-pointer. He’s connected on 199 of them so far during his college career.
Josh said his father molded him into the shooter he is today.
“He didn’t let me shoot threes until I was in high school,” Josh said. “He taught me how to shoot, the form, everything.”
Jon coached his son in town and AAU basketball from fourth grade until his sophomore year of high school. Josh credits his father for helping foster him with a love for the game.
“My dad loves sports, especially basketball,” Josh said. “His history at ENC and his passion and his love and knowledge of the game really grew that passion in me.”
It began when Josh was in elementary school and his father Jon was the head boys’ basketball coach at Hingham High.
“I would bring him with me to practices and games,” the elder Rice said. “There was one time, I remember coaching a game in Weymouth and we had just enough seats for everybody on the team and the last seat was for the water cooler. Josh was in second or third grade at the time. There was one of those big, heavy water coolers, and he was like, ‘Well, dad said I could sit on the bench this game, so I’m just going to move this water cooler.’
“So, he attempts to move the water cooler and it falls over and it floods the court, so that was certainly an everlasting memory.”
Jon eventually gave up his spot on the Hingham bench so he could coach his son.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make,” Jon said. “It was hard, but I don’t regret a second of it. I cherish the memories I have coaching Josh and my other two boys, as well.”
But the memories that stick out to Josh occurred in the driveway, where he and his younger brother Tyler, a former starter on the W-H basketball team, who graduated in 2018, played against their youngest brother Ben, who is a senior on the Panthers now, and their father.
“I just remember how intense those games would be going down the stretch, being like 20-20 and the first to 21 wins,” Josh recalled. “Losing to my brother and my dad motivated me to work even harder.”
It’s what happened after the game when no one was watching that defines Josh’s work ethic.
“The next day, I’d be out working on the shot I missed in those games,” Josh said. “Those games were so valuable growing up. We all wanted to win so badly.”
Josh entered this season just 40 points away from the 1,000-point mark. His offseason was rigorous, but typical.
“I would work out wherever I could,” Josh explained. “When Whitman-Hanson was open, I’d get in there when I could, I’d drive up some nights to ENC. I also work at the YMCA in Hanover, as a camp counselor, so I’d go early and get a workout in, and then after my shift was up I’d get shots up.”
His drive, determination, and prowess on the court are a few aspects of Josh that stick out to ENC head men’s basketball coach Scott Polsgrove. They explain why he’s a captain for the Lions.
“He’s a great leader for us,” Polsgrove said. “His teammates all know that he cares about them, and he’s a fun, loving, player who has an infectious attitude and energy about him that draws people to him. We rely on him heavily.”
While Josh finishes his ENC career, he’ll forever have a memory in the college both he and his father called home.
“I’ll be able to take my kids to an ENC game one day and say, ‘That’s your grandfather and that’s me,’” Josh said.