By Adam Spolane

Scott Pera is reportedly the front-runner to replace Mike Rhoades as Rice Basketball’s head coach. Pera might be a bit of an unknown around the city, but he has a high-profile supporter.

“He’s a great mentor, obviously, he’s a great coach,” Rockets guard James Harden said before the team’s practice at Toyota Center Thursday. “He just knows the game, he knows how to recruit. He deserves an opportunity.”

Harden has known Pera for close to 15 years, going back to his freshman year at Artesia High School in the Los Angeles area. He coached Harden for three seasons before joining Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State, where he and Harden joined forces again.

“I’ve known him since I was 12 years old, or something, going to high school, so he’s been there throughout my entire life with mentoring me, with helping me out, so so for him to get an opportunity finally, it’ll be a dream come true for him and great for me to watch him turn that program around.”

Pera was on Rice’s staff for all three season’s of Rhoades’ tenure before the latter left for VCU on Tuesday. This past season, the team finished 23-12, advancing to the quarterfinals of the CBI. The 23 wins were a school record.

With Rice assistants JD Byers and Joey Rodriguez reportedly joining Rhoades at VCU, Pera is the only name to emerge publicly in connection with the Rice job, and Harden hopes it stays that way.

“He worked his tail off and he’s been doing it a long time, so hopefully he gets the job and it’s a great opportunity for him.”

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