As the co-architect of Jimmermania, Dave Rice is drawing up plans for Salt Lake Community College. The Bruins’ new head basketball coach has plenty of personal history to glean from, including a 159-46 record over his six years as Dave Rose’s offensive assistant at BYU.

“There is great basketball played across Utah and the high school coaching here is second to none,” Rice told the “Y’s Guys” podcast this week. “I think we can put a combination of Utah guys on the floor with national recruiting and I think we can have a roster that looks similar, in terms of how it’s made up, with what we did at BYU.”

Rice played for Jerry Tarkanian’s 1990 national championship squad at UNLV. His coaching journey has included stops with the Rebels, Nevada, Washington, Utah State and BYU, where the Cougars averaged 26.5 wins per season between 2006 and 2011.

He’s been there and done that, and brings the culmination of it all into the Bruins powerhouse program at the junior college level.

“We talk about showcasing great individual talent but doing it in a team concept and doing it in a fun atmosphere,” Rice said. “We are going to share the ball. We are going to play team basketball. You are going to have fun going to practice every day and we are going to get you the exposure you deserve and get you to the spot where you can play your best basketball.”

Rice will make his SLCC debut against Western Nebraska Nov. 1 at Snow College in Ephraim. He wants his program to be a launch pad for his players just as BYU launched Jimmer Fredette to National Player of the Year, an NBA lottery pick and now an Olympian for the United States.

Developing Jimmer

Unlike many of today’s college newcomers, Fredette spent his freshman season playing a limited role from off the bench. The diamond in the rough from Glens Falls, New York, remained patient while Rice polished him in the offense.

“Midway through his sophomore year we are playing at San Diego State, and we are down at the half and that’s when he became ‘Jimmer,’” Rice said. “He took over the game. That was when you knew this kid was going to be something really special.”

Kevin Young recruited his staff the same way he recruited his players

Fredette scored 28 points and had five steals as BYU erased a 14-point deficit and beat the Aztecs 69-59 for their first win in San Diego in five years.

As Fredette was exploding, Rice was evolving — as a young offensive coach.

“One of the great lessons I learned was to get out of the way,” he said. “Don’t get in the way of a great player. Sometimes your best offense is simply clearing the floor and telling Jimmer to go to work.”

Fredette’s justifiable green light to shoot whenever and from wherever he wanted might clash with a team that prides itself on unselfish play, but not this group. They enjoyed winning too much.

“We were near the top of the country in assists and yet Jimmer was a phenomenal talent and our guys understood that,” Rice said. “It worked because the guys understood that they needed Jimmer and Jimmer understood how much he needed them. The combination of those things made it work and coach Rose was the master at pushing the right buttons.”

Fredette, the Olympian

Rice and the BYU staff spent a lot of time in and out of practice trying to find ways to get Fredette the basketball with enough space to do his thing. The idea of eliminating two of the five defenders never crossed his mind until he watched Fredette make the U.S. Olympic 3x3 basketball team.

“I fully expect him to bring home the gold medal,” Rice said of Fredette’s upcoming run in Paris. “It’s tailor made for him with how he plays. He has a belief that he is going to find a way to put the ball in the basket. I still think about the New Mexico game in the (2011) conference tournament when he scored 52.”

Fredette will lead the United States in their 3x3 debut against Serbia on July 30.

Was 2011 squad a Final Four team?

BYU has never reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Danny Ainge and his 1981 team came the closest before losing to Virginia in the Elite Eight. The Cougars were primed to make program history at the end of Fredette’s senior season in 2011 until center Brandon Davies was suspended for violating BYU’s honor code.

Without Davies, the Cougars finished the Mountain West Tournament as the runner-up to San Diego State, but they still earned a No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament. Fredette carried BYU past Wofford and Gonzaga before losing to Florida in overtime in the Sweet 16.

The loss of Davies proved to be too much to overcome.

“No doubt about it. We lost to Florida in overtime without Brandon and we would have had Butler next (in the Elite Eight),” Rice said. “We would have beaten Butler.”

Jimmer Fredette’s hot streak just got hotter

Florida’s 83-74 victory ended the Cougars’ season with a program-best 34-5 record. While some contend that BYU’s honor code may have cost the Cougars athletic glory, Rice sees it differently.

“It was a tough time, but we always had great respect for what BYU stood for,” Rice said. “I hope BYU never forgets that that is what made us special. As tough as that was, as tough as that moment was, I think it sent a message to the world that this is what we are. Brandon lived to fight another day and had a wonderful career and continues to play.”

New-look Cougars

While working on his own staff and roster at SLCC, Rice has watched BYU’s Kevin Young do the same for a program he still feels very much a part of.

“Absolutely! We are a BYU family for sure,” Rice said. “We have great friends in the area. We had six magical years in Provo. It was just a wonderful time.”

Rice sees hiring Young away from the Phoenix Suns and signing high-level kids as a sign of the times for BYU.

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“I think it speaks volumes about what a special place BYU is and the potential,” he said. “With the investment they have made in athletics with the need for NIL money, I think they have a chance to take the next step.”

BYU's head men's basketball coach Kevin Young speaks with Dallin Hall after practice at BYU in Provo on Thursday, June 6, 2024. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Young grabbed national attention by signing a pair of freshmen who are tabbed as first-round NBA prospects — Egor Demin and Kanon Catchings. He also signed ESPN Top 100 freshmen Brody Kozlowski and Elijah Crawford. Keba Keita (Utah) and Mowat Mag (Rutgers) came to the Cougars from the transfer portal to join returners Dallin Hall, Richie Saunders, Trevin Knell, Fousseyni Traore and Trey Stewart.

“It’s about belief. They have the players in place, and they have a great coaching staff,” Rice said. “I think it’s about, when our teams under coach Rose walked onto the floor, we thought we were going to win. We felt we deserved to win because of how we practiced and stayed together. It’s not their talent or schemes, coach Young will figure all that out. It’s about a belief that we belong in the Big 12 and we belong on the national stage.”

Dave McCann is a sportswriter and columnist for the Deseret News and is a play-by-play announcer and show host for BYUtv/ESPN+. He co-hosts “Y’s Guys” at and is the author of the children’s book “C is for Cougar,” available at

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