CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Mark Price doesn’t have much coaching experience at the college level.
But the former four-time NBA All-Star is confident the knowledge he’s gained from playing and coaching in the league will translate to success at his new job as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team.
”As I told coach (Bobby) Cremins almost 30 years ago when he took a chance on a 5-foot-11, 155-pound guard to come play in the ACC, it was a decision he wasn’t going to regret. And I don’t think he does, and I don’t think you will either,” Price said told an audience of hundreds Thursday as he was introduced as the 10th men’s basketball coach in school history.
Price played 12 seasons in the NBA and was an assistant coach in the league for seven years, including the last two with the Charlotte Hornets.
However, his only experience coaching at the college level came in the 1999-2000 season when he worked as an assistant on Cremins’ staff at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.
Cremins, who was on hand for the press conference, believes Price will be an excellent fit for Charlotte.
”He’s got coaching in his blood because of his father,” Cremins said. ”He always wanted to be a head coach. It will be a challenge for him, but he’s up to it. I’m really glad to see him get this opportunity.”
Price, 51, inherits a program that went 14-18 last season and hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2005 and hasn’t won a tournament game since 2001.
Still, Price is excited that he can turn around a team that lost 10 games last season by five points or less.
”A lot you will be watching the Sweet 16 tonight,” Price said. ”My goal and my dream, is that shortly will we be getting seen on TV instead of watching the games.”
Price said he plans to run an up-tempo offense, and said the team will need to work to find an identity on defense.
”I believe the potential here is tremendous and I’m excited about the talent we have,” Price said.
Price replaces Alan Major, who has struggled with health problems and was let go after five seasons as coach following a 75-81 record.
Price said he had considered entering the college coaching ranks in the past, but the right job hadn’t come along until now. Price has four children and said he fell in love with the Charlotte area when he came here two years ago and doesn’t want to leave.
Price was surprised when Charlotte reached out to him a couple of weeks ago.
Charlotte athletic director Judy Rose said Price was the school’s first choice and that the first and only person that was offered the position.
”We talked with several people, but in my mind the credibility with him was huge,” Rose said. ”He’s a good person and the first time we met him he had the whole picture of what we were looking for. He stood out to me.”
Price has been credited with helping improve the shooting stroke of Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist over the past two seasons.
Kidd-Gilchrist, a former No. 2 overall pick, is still raw, but has developed into one of Charlotte’s more consistent players under Price’s tutelage.
”He’s a teacher on the court and off the court,” said Kidd-Gilchrist, who also attended the press conference. ”He’s easy to talk to and a dependable guy. I’m excited for Mark. It’s self-explanatory what he has done for me with my game and confidence. He’s helped me grow as a player and a person.”