After suffering a season-ending knee injury before the start of last year, redshirt freshman guard Chad Lott is geared up to begin his Rice basketball career.
Lott, a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard from Shreveport, Louisiana, was a three-star recruit and nominee for McDonald's All-American as a Byrd High School senior. He was part of an impressive recruiting class, which included sophomore guard Marcus Evans, sophomore guard Connor Cashaw and sophomore forward Harrison Brown.
Lott was more highly touted as a recruit than Evans, who was the leading freshman scorer in Division I college basketball last season. Lott offered head coach Mike Rhoades increased depth and positioning on the wing and as a result, his knee injury forced several players to play more minutes than originally planned. According to Rhoades, having Lott on the court is beneficial for the entire team.
"Having [Lott] back now is crucial for our depth and positioning," Rhoades said. "He offers our team leadership and toughness. We need him fully healed."
Thankfully for Rhoades, Lott appears to have recovered and now possesses full range of motion on his knee. According to Lott, the rehabilitation process has paid off and he will be ready for the start of the season.
"My rehab was incredibly intense," Lott said. “I took rehab as seriously as I take practice and games. I feel back to 100 percent."
While sitting out an entire season can wear on an athlete, the benefits it can offer a freshman are apparent in Lott's development. According to Lott, time on the bench allowed him to adjust to the pace of the college game.
"I just watched that whole year, watching the speed of the college level,” Lott said. “That was big for me. I looked at [my teammates] to see how I should play when I got back."
Cashaw, in particular, was crucial in Lott's rehabilitation process. Lott said Cashaw helped him remain motivated throughout a painful and frustrating time.
"We built our friendship all of last year,” Lott said. “He got me through what I thought was the hardest time of my life. Him being with me was really helpful."
As Lott sat out the entire 2014-15 season, Evans earned national attention by scoring 21.4 points per game and playing nearly 40 minutes a night. This season, in order to allow Lott to play his natural position of shooting guard, Rhoades is shifting Evans into a point guard role. According to Lott, he and Evans will coexist on the floor well together, no matter what position they play.
"Marcus and I play great together,” Lott said. “We are both competitive and defensive minded. We are going to work really well."
Although Lott did not play last season, Rhoades left an impact on him during his first year at Rice. According to Lott, Rhoades is the ideal coach for him and his team.
"I love coach Rhoades,” Lott said. “He is not only a coach but also a mentor. I love his competitiveness, and how he is just as intense about games and the process of basketball as I am."
This week, Rhoades went on a tour of the residential colleges to encourage students to come to basketball games. According to Lott, Rice has a number of reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming men's basketball season.
"I feel as though we have the potential to do whatever we want to do,” Lott said “We can make some noise in the tournament. We are capable of making the NCAA Tournament, which is our ultimate goal. We have a lot of young guys who work hard and older veterans. Our team is definitely looking really good."