|Jack Williams just recently retired after a 21-year stint as the Sports Information Director at Virginia Tech. Throughout a distinguished and award-wining career in college athletics and sports journalism, he has also served as Sports Information Director at North Carolina, as well as Assistant Sports Editor of both the Atlanta Journal & Constitution and The News & Observer of Raleigh. He recently joined the Georgia Tech Sports Information Office as Sports Information Director Emeritus. His column will be a weekly feature on Ramblinwreck.com|
After 12 seasons in professional ranks, Mark Price has come home to Georgia Tech basketball and to the Atlantic Coast Conference wars where nothing much has changed since he was on the firing line in the mid-1980s.
“Duke still will be Duke, North Carolina still will be North Carolina and it’s my job to help make sure Georgia Tech still will be Georgia Tech,” Price said recently as he looked ahead to his first season as an assistant coach on the staff of Bobby Cremins.
Price gave Georgia Tech a new and dynamic name in ACC basketball as a brilliant guard, helping bring the school its first ACC championship in 1985 and then two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. He became one of the greatest players in school history, four times making all-ACC, three times on the first-team.
Price went on to a brilliant NBA career, nine years of it with a contending team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played in the NBA All-Star game four times and was a member of Dream Team II that won a Gold Medal in the 1994 World Championships.
Now he and Georgia Tech shoot for the stars again–this time with Price on the coaching bench in an assignment he calls, “a dream come true.”
In all his years as a player, Price said he did not necessarily think he would follow in the footsteps of his father, Denny, who was a high school coach of note in Enid, Okla.
” I never thought that much about coaching when I was busy playing,” he said. “After I retired from the NBA, I began to think more and more about it. Then came the opportunity at Georgia Tech, at the school where I got my education, the school which gave me a chance to develop my basketball skills and alongside the man who had coached me.
“I have a very strong loyalty to Georgia Tech. Honestly, at this stage, I could not see myself coaching anywhere but here.”
Talk about devotion to a program and to a school! Price showed in 1995 how strongly he feels about Georgia Tech when he presented the Institute with a $100,000 gift to help fund the renovation and addition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Coach Cremins also contributed $100,000 the same year in a demonstration of his dedication to the program.
Price’s first year on the Yellow Jacket staff may well turn out to be a big challenge. Tech’s hopes for 1999-2000 took a blow when star guard Dion Glover passed up his last three years of eligibility and was drafted recently by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.
Price, however, isn’t ready to throw in the towel–not by a long shot.
“The loss of Dion is a blow, but not as severe as it was last season when he went down with a season-ending injury on the first day of practice,” Price said. “That changed everything that had been planned. I don’t think our players ever fully recovered mentally from that last season.
“This time, it will be different. We have a long time to prepare for the season with plans that will not include Dion. In my opinion, Tech will be an improved team because of the year of experience so many players gained last season.”
Price agrees with many who grumble about the direction NBA basketball is taking and says he is glad he is no longer in professional ranks.
“I am especially disappointed by the fact so many young players, who have not had an opportunity to mature, are moving into the league,” he said. “If NBA teams would stop drafting them, those young players, it would send a message to the others. Unfortunately, they are being drafted, even coming out of high school, and that is sending the wrong message.
“I wish the NBA and the NCAA could get together and come up with some agreement that would prevent the league from taking guys coming out of high school or those who have had only maybe one year in college.”
Price does speak in glowing terms about one thing in the NBA–the champion San Antonio Spurs. “I was very impressed with them–especially the two big guys, (Tim) Duncan and (David) Robinson,” he said. “Duncan is special. He is a solid player, not flashy, but one who has come a long way in such a short time. I like his court demeanor.”
Price confines his basketball activity these days to coaching and watching games. “After 12 seasons in the NBA, my body needed a rest,” he said. “I don’t even play pickup games. My main physical activities are bicycling and an occasional tennis game.”
Mark is a very devoted family man. He and his wife, Laura, whom he met when they were Tech students, have four children, Caroline, Brittany, Hudson and Joshua.
Mark also takes pride in his work as a volunteer music director at his Duluth church, Victory in Jesus Baptist. And just as was the case in his college days, he quite often is a vocal solist at church services.
Then comes the basketball games–and Mark Price is a warrior all over again. He’s ready to help take Georgia Tech to battle and, hopefully, to reach new heights in the Atlantic Coast Conference.