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Former Duke University basketball player visits local students

SALISBURY — In a nod to March Madness, student athletes at Knox Middle and Salisbury High schools on Tuesday welcomed a surprise guest. Ricky Price, a Duke University graduate and former basketball player, joined students to provide extra encouragement and motivation as they look toward the future.

Price, a native of Los Angeles, was recruited to play for Duke in the mid-90s after winning the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk contest.

During his Knox Middle talk, he shared with students three principles that led him more than 2,500 miles and into a decade-long career in the National Basketball Association. Price called these principles the “game-breaking pillars of success.”

The first pillar, he said, is the ability to visualize and imagine. In his youth, he often envisioned himself achieving greatness: being able to slam dunk, score a game-winning shot, play basketball on TV and be a professional player.

Price went on to achieve each of these, and the first step began with visualization, he said.

“At your age, where you are right now, if you want to be a great student, you need to visualize and imagine yourself doing it,” said Price. “You’ll be surprised what the outcome’s going to be.”

Second, Price emphasized the importance of hard work.

“Nothing in life comes without putting in the time. … If  you want to be great at your sport, if you want to be great as a student, … if you want to be a good person, you’ve got to work at it each and every day.”

The third pillar of success, Price said, is confidence — built through the foundational visualization and hard work he’d mentioned before.

Knox Middle Principal Michael Courtwright encouraged the students to take to heart Price’s emphasis on time and effort.

“Time and work are the pillars that he built the rest of his life on,” said Courtwright. “Each of us has the same 24 hours in a day. Are you going to waste them?”

Since leaving the NBA, Price has worked across the Southeast through his company. Game Ready Skills and Development, providing individualized, small-group and camp-based basketball training to students ages 10 to 17.

He has also been a speaker for school groups, conferences, clinics and camps since his time in college, he said.

“Part of what I do is mentorship,” he said. “I love spending time with young people. I remember being wide-eyed and not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. … The story’s the same. It’s about who you are as a person and how you got there. The important lesson is how you get there, the pitfalls that come along the way and how to avoid them.”

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