Sports: Former Blue Devil lends a hand at Southeast Middle

Published 5:31 am Thursday, November 17, 2022

Ricky Price


Staff report

SALISBURY — It’s been 28 years since Ricky Price, a high-flying 6-foot-6 Californian, won the dunk contest at the McDonald’s All-America Game.

Price was considered one of the best of the best of the nation’s high school players in 1994, a Parade All America who averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds.

Price wore USA on his chest for international competition, and at the McDonald’s Game, which was even more hyped and prestigious in 1994, then it is now, he played with future Duke teammate Trajan Langdon and against future Duke teammate Steve Wojciechowski.

Price didn’t quite become the superstar that he was anticipated to become in Durham and he never got to experience winning an ACC tournament, but he was a very good player for head coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.

As a freshman, Price made his mark with super shooting in games against UNC, but that was the season that Coach K left the team after 12 games and underwent back surgery. That 1994-95 season became a train-wreck for the Blue Devils at 13-18 overall and 2-14 in the ACC, and it may have altered the trajectory of Price’s career. Officially, Coach K was credited with a 9-3 record, while associate coach Pete Gaudet, who took charge in Coach K’s absence, was 4-15.

As a sophomore — that was, by far, Price’s best season at Duke — he scored a career-best 28 points against Virginia and made a buzzer-beater to nip Maryland. He averaged 14 points and was third team All-ACC.

As a junior, much was expected, but A broken finger affected Price’s jump shot, he hit a slump and averaged a little better than 9 points per game.

There was more adversity for Price as a senior, academic probation for a semester and the loss of his starting role.

But he didn’t quit when quitting would have been the easy thing. He stuck it out and came off the bench to help Duke win its second straight ACC regular season title. He scored his 1,000th point for the Blue Devils. He graduated with a sociology degree.

Not long after his career ended at Duke, he was playing 5,000 miles away from the NBA — in Slovenia. He also played in the Netherlands, in Germany, in France, in Finland, among other places.

For about a decade, he saw a lot of different arenas in Europe and Asia and played in USA pro leagues such as the International Basketball League and the Continental Basketball Association.

There was something valuable to be learned at every stop on his basketball journey, whether it was in Slovenia or Michigan.

Time moves quickly, and Price is 46 now.

He has been able to transition his hoops knowledge, his personable nature and his speaking ability into a successful career after the ball stopped bouncing. He is in demand as a personal trainer and motivator and commands thousands of dollars for speaking engagements in the corporate world.

But he also has a give-back nature about him. That’s why he donated time recently to help the basketball players at Southeast Middle School.

He conducted sessions on back-to-back Sundays recently, staying from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m., spending one day with the varsity and one with the jayvees.

“How it came about was our principal (Davion Ellison) has known Ricky Price since college,” explained Southeast Middle AD Phillip Hilliard. “He helped our kids improve their basketball skills and he also talked to them and motivated them. We’re in the middle of the county, with our kids going to five different high schools, and sometimes we can get overlooked. But we’re willing to do the extra things like this to help our kids out. This was a positive experience for our basketball team.”

In early November, Price spoke to staff members at Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury.

A lot of the same concepts apply to building a teaching team and building an athletic team. Trusting leaders and teammates and believing in them is at the core of all successful teams.