Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice wins Mountain West coach of the year

Leon Rice, Boise State men's basketball
Photo by Claire Keener

The 2021-2022 Boise State men’s basketball has crushed program record books this season. 

The Broncos captured both the Mountain West’s (MW) regular season and tournament championship titles. Now, they are well on their way for their 8th overall appearance in the NCAA tournament. 

Head coach Leon Rice and the Broncos have made a statement this season. Boise State has posted a 24-7 (15-3 MW) record which makes for the third-most wins in program history. Not to mention winning 22 of their last 25 games along the way. 

Leon Rice, Boise State men's basketball
[Photo of men’s basketball head coach Leon Rice on the sidelines of the Boise State home game against Santa Clara.]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

Therefore rewarding Rice with his second conference Coach of the Year award was a no-brainer. He received eight out of eleven first-place votes, edging out Wyoming’s head coach Jeff Linder. 

Rice was given the award the first time in 2015 when the Broncos tied for the regular-season conference championship with San Diego State University.

“He is a great leader and he really holds us together,” said fifth-year forward Abu Kigab “We thank him for everything he has done for us and we are grateful to have him, I know none of us would rather play for anyone else. He is just that guy.”

Players such as Kigab, redshirt senior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. and redshirt senior guard Emmanuel Akot all improved heavily this year under coach Rice. Kigab’s scoring average jumped from 11.8 points to 14.6 per game this year. Shaver Jr. improved from 10.3 points to 13.8 and Akot would increase his per game average by three points. 

“Coach has helped all of us grow this year and if you want to ask about me specifically, I would have not improved as well as I have this year if it was not for him,” Shaver Jr. said. “He pushed me to be my very best and he was okay with me being more aggressive and looking for my shots more often this season.”

Rice’s ever so humble mentality was on full display as he let it be known that this award was not just an individual award.

“This award is a reflection of our whole program, from top to bottom,” Rice said. “The commitment from our administrators, our assistant coaches, and others are what truly drove this team to new heights this year, said the 12-year Bronco head coach following first hearing about the award. Then of course the players are due all of the praise. Us as coaches do our job just like any other year but this year our team was exceptional and we needed them. This award is for everyone.” 

Boise State finished out their season with a loss to the University of Memphis on March 17 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

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