The near-capacity crowd began to grow restless as the house lights were dimmed and spotlights bounced around the arena like a psychedelic light show. With celebrities in attendance and the representation of an entire community on hand, Ronnie Price – UVU’s favorite son – was about to be inducted into the university’s athletic hall of fame.
The ironic part is that all the glitz and glory surrounding Price on this special occasion was far from fitting, considering the former Wolverine point guard’s blue-collar attitude.
A highlight video flashing in the dim light showed clips of Price as a Wolverine and as an NBA player with the Sacramento Kings. The crowd roared when Price, in a Kings uniform, soared over current Jazz teammate Carlos Boozer for an emphatic left handed slam dunk. This night was all about Price’s many accomplishments and Wolverine fans couldn’t have been any prouder.
“It’s been exciting,” Price said of his return to Utah Valley, the school where he made a name for himself as a basketball player. “Having my family from Houston here, Jazz teammates and coaching staff and old fans are here tonight-it’s been fun.”
Price, whose basketball career has now taken him to Utah twice, possesses a characteristic absent in most NBA players: loyalty. After his initial season with the Wolverines, Price had opportunities to play elsewhere. Being that UVSC was still playing junior college ball at the time, the decision to leave would have been considered a good move for Price’s career.
But loyalty to coach Dick Hunsaker and to the school that gave him an opportunity – not to mention his soon-to-be wife – allowed him to make the decision to remain a Wolverine and carry UVSC through the tough transitional years of playing division I basketball.
“I had a chance to go somewhere else but I felt loyal to Hunsaker and my teammates here and the community here,” Price said. “Everybody was very committed to making UVSC a well-known university, and I was just happy to be a part of that while I was here.”
The appreciation Price felt for UVU and the community hung heavily in the air as the festivities continued throughout the evening. Although Price has gone from playing under the lights at the McKay Center to playing under the illumination of packed arenas around the NBA – and the likes of the biggest stars in the league – he has never come off as too good for his humble beginnings at UVU.
“This is something that I wasn’t expecting at all,” said Price of being inducted into the UVU hall of fame. “To be amongst those that are already in the hall of fame … I feel very honored.”