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Utah Jazz: UVU honors Ronnie Price with induction into its Hall of Fame

When Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price recently got a knock on his door, he never expected it would lead to a high profile return to his alma mater, Utah Valley University.

"I opened the door and there were some important people from UVU," Price said. "I didn't know what was going on. They said they wanted to induct me into the Athletic Hall of Fame, something I wasn't expecting."

Thursday night, Price returned to the court at the UVU Events Center where his basketball career took off, this time as the guest of honor as he was inducted into the Utah Valley University Athletic Hall of Fame.

"I'm very happy to be here and be part of the Hall of Fame," Price told the record-breaking crowd during halftime of UVU's 67-53 win over Texas Pan American. "To all the coaches and players that were here when I was here, this is for all of us. It was the best three years of my life. I loved the school, had a great time here, and it gives me chills to be back on this court. I miss it."

The ceremony capped a star-studded evening as Price was joined for the event by Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan and his staff, teammates Deron Williams and Kosta Koufos as well as other members of the NBA organization.

"They're my family now," the ex-Wolverine said. "I support them in all that they do and it was great to have them here to show their love and support. It was special to have them here in the building to be a part of this."

Things kicked off with Price unveiling his plaque in the northwest corner of the events center, which joined 26 other UVU athletic standouts who have received the honor. Price noted that things weren't quite the same as when he was an athlete at the school.

"It's been great seeing things I haven't seen and the changes UVU has made," the Jazz guard said. "The locker room is great and I'd never been in the media room. But the best thing is being around old friends, having my family and teammates here, as well as some of the old student body fans."

The plaque mentioned Price's memorable Wolverine career from 2002-05, which included the school making the transition from being a junior college to becoming a Division I program.

For UVU head coach head coach Dick Hunsaker, who helped bring the Texas native to Orem, it was a special experience to see his former player inducted — as well as utilize his inspiration to win a basketball game.

"This was a great tribute to Ronnie Price for what he's done and meant to UVU," Hunsaker said. "It was a special thing to be a part of and a special thing for our players. He came into the locker room after being inducted and told them not to put their heads down. I'm glad we were able to turn things around for him. This is something our players will remember throughout their lives."

There were times when the school — which was known as Utah Valley State College while Price was there — didn't know if Price would be around for his entire career. During the adjustment period after the 2002-03 season, he was one of many Wolverines that had to decide if they were going to stay or move on.

"My junior college year, we had a team that was better than probably 80 percent of Division I teams," Price said. "We had a bond I'd never had before. We got together and talked, and decided that if one of us stayed, we were all going to stay. It wasn't the entire team the next year, but it was enough to feel right."

His accomplishments at UVU included career averages of 19.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 89 games for the Wolverines.

As a senior in 2004-05, he averaged 24.3 points (third in the nation), was voted to the All-District 8 Team by the United States Basketball Writers Association and named the NCAA Division I Independant Player of the Year.

Even with all the accolades and honors he earned playing for UVU, Price said the things he remembers most are the friendships he developed during his time playing in Orem.

"My freshman year, it was my first time being away from Texas," he said. "I developed a great friendship with my four roommates (also Wolverine players). None of us knew what was going on in Utah, but it was unbelievable. We fought and had emotional moments, but we developed friendships that will last forever."

The former Wolverine star signed with the Sacramento Kings as an undrafted free agent and played there for two seasons before joining the Jazz for the 2007-08 season.

This season, he's averaging a career-high 4.6 points per game.

Looking back, Price said he attributes his success to staying committed to his goals.

"If you have a goal, something to reach for, you have to stay committed to it," he said. "There will be bumps, people and situations, that will take you away from your goals. You have to keep pushing. I'm proof of that. The odds were never on my side but the more I pushed, the more things turned my way."