Rayvonte Rice left Drake after two seasons to help his hometown team.

Now, the junior guard is the leading scorer at Illinois, averaging 16.7 points and 5.6 rebounds for a team that will try ande and snap a six-game losing streak when it hosts Iowa Saturday.

“He needs some help,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “I don’t know if there’s anything he can necessarily do at this point. We want him to be aggressive. But we need some other guys to be a little more consistent with their shotmaking and their scoring than what they’ve done at this juncture.”

Drake coach Mark Phelps signed Rice out of Centennial High School in Champaign. Rice played in 64 games for the Bulldogs, starting 62 times. He set a school freshman scoring record with 428 points (13.8-point average). As a sophomore, he was a second-team all-Missouri Valley Conference selection with numbers that are strikingly similar to this year – 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. He was Drake’s leading scorer and second-leading rebounder as a sophomore.

But that’s when Rice decided to pull up stakes and return home. And the homecoming has been a good one in Groce’s eyes.

“Terrific,” Groce said. “He’s done a great job. He’s changed his game, his body, he’s done well academically. I like the growth he’s made as a person. So he’s done fantastic”

Saturday will be Rice’s third shot at the Hawkeyes. He scored 14 points as a freshman when Iowa came to the Knapp Center and won, 59-52.

The following season, the Hawkeyes protected home court with a 82-68 victory. Rice scored 23 points in that game.

Rice has led the Illini in scoring 13 times this season. He scored 20 in Illinois’ most recent game, a 56-46 loss at Indiana on Sunday.