While it’s not quite as dramatic as Michael Jordan’s return to Chicago or Mario Lemieux’s return to the ice in Pittsburgh, Ronnie Price, the face of Utah Valley basketball, is back in the Beehive State as a member of the Utah Jazz.
After a two-year stint with the Sacramento Kings, the Jazz signed Price to a multi-year contract as a free agent over the summer.
"It’s great to be back in Utah," Price said.
In his senior season as a Wolverine, Price averaged 24.3 points and 4.2 boards a contest and was named Division 1 Independent player of the year. In his final game at Utah Valley, Price scorched Northern Colorado with a season-high 36 points before bowing to kiss the floor in Jordanesque fashion.
"That was a great way to end a college career on the home court," Price said. "The excitement, the feeling, the support it just capped off a great time and a great career."
Price left his legacy at Utah Valley and became the only player from UVSC to go directly to the NBA when he signed with the Kings in 2005.
In five preseason games with the Jazz, Price has averaged four points and 2.3 assists a game in 11.4 minutes a game.
Along with former teammate Jason Hart, Price was brought to Utah to back-up Deron Williams, who emerged as one of the league’s best point guards in the Jazz’ run to the Western Conference finals.
In Wednesday night’s 101-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Price played just over seven minutes scoring six points on 2-0f-3 shooting from the field including a 20-foot jumper to finish the first half.
Utah cruised to its third win of the preseason thanks to Carlos Boozer’s team-high 17. Second-year player Ronnie Brewer continued his high level of play in the preseason by adding 14 points to go along with four assists on the night. On a team full of guards Price will look to contribute in any way he can when he gets the opportunity.
"We have guys that can put the ball in the hole every which way," Price said. "My job is to be an energy guy."
With the Jazz in need of perimeter defense and athleticism Price could be just the right fit to fill that role and get some significant minutes. With Price so close to his former school he expects to be in attendance at as many Utah Valley men’s basketball games as his busy schedule will allow. "I’ll be there front row, front and center watching as many games as I can."