Even Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price admits he sometimes looks back at his years playing here. He said it is sometimes hard to believe he is where he is at now.
Now, he’s the backup point guard for the Utah Jazz.
“I look back and think ‘Wow, I’ve done a lot,” Price said. “I still want more, of course, but I don’t control the future, so it’s good to look back and remember where I came from.”
He’s gone a long way since leading the Wolverines, and he’s making the most of every chance, opportunity and injury since making it to the NBA.
Four years ago Price had just finished his senior season here and wondered what his future would hold. Playing for a small school, his 24.3 points per game his senior weren’t enough to put him on the national radar as an NBA prospect. He worked out for a number of NBA teams before the 2005 draft, but his name wasn’t called. To him, it didn’t matter.
He kept working toward his dream. A dream he knew he would accomplish.
The Sacramento Kings gave him his first opportunity.
While with the Kings, after signing a two-year guaranteed contract out of college, time on the court was tough to come by for the 6-foot-2 guard. He played in just 29 of the 82 games and 5.2 minutes a game in those he played.
Again, it didn’t matter. He kept working in practices, at shoot-arounds and wherever he could during the summer, which included playing in Utah.
The opportunities came more frequent in his second season with the Kings. He played in twice as many games, and his minutes increased to over nine a game.
He wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more minutes — knew he could make a bigger impact — so he kept working.
As a free agent, the Kings didn’t re-sign the ex-Wolverine. He hit the free market. The Jazz were one of the teams Price worked out for in 2005, and they must have remembered something about Price from those workouts.
He signed with the Jazz in 2007 to help Utah improve its perimeter defense and because he can play both guard positions.
Opportunities continued to present themselves, and Price continued to make the most of them back in Utah.
Early this season, Price was Utah’s third point guard. An injury to backup Jason Hart left the door open for Price to take command of the Jazz behind Deron Williams.
He hasn’t disappointed since taking the backup minutes. He often gives the team the boost it needs at the defense end. The Jazz are also finding out what many around here already knew: Price isn’t bad offensively either.
On a Jazz team loaded with scorers from Mehmet Okur, to Deron Williams to Carlos Boozer, Price isn’t called on to score often, but when he is, he is more than capable. Against Toronto in March, Price scored his season high, 13 points, in 13 minutes.
No matter how well he plays, it doesn’t matter. He keeps working. Price knows not everyone can do what he does, but he also knows that not everyone is willing to work as hard as he does to get there.
Now Price has a chance to play in the playoffs for the first time. Don’t expect him to falter. Even if he does, he won’t give up.