Indiana Pacers: A.J. Price

Anthony Jordan Price grew up in Orange, New Jersey, and attended Amityville Memorial High School, leading his team to state titles in his sophomore and junior seasons.  Price, known as A.J. since an early age, is the son of Tony Price, a former University of Pennsylvania star who led the Quakers to the 1979 NCAA Final Four.  He was heavily recruited during high school, and eventually settled on the University of Connecticut over several other high-profile schools.

His college career got off to the worst possible start when, just before the start of his freshman season, doctors discovered a hemorrhage in his brain caused by a life-threatening arteriovenous malformation (AVM).  He was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition, and spent the next 10 days in the hospital.  Eventually, the brain malformation was pinpointed and doctors were able to use surgery to alleviate the pressure on his brain.

Price missed his entire freshman year, but was slated to have a major role in the Huskies backcourt for the 2005-06 season.  Unfortunately, he wouldn’t suit up for Jim Calhoun’s squad that season either.  Price was arrested in connection with attempting to sell stolen laptops, and suspended for the entire year.  Finally, in what should have been his junior season, the highly touted Price began his collegiate career.

Price had a very successful season, but unfortunately, adversity struck again, as Price suffered a torn ACL in the Huskies NCAA tournament game. Never one to be deterred, Price, just eight months removed from ACL surgery, returned to the Huskies and proceeded to lead the team in scoring with a 14.7 per game average as UConn advanced all the way to the Final Four, eventually losing to Michigan State.  Price was named the Most Outstanding Player in the West Regional.

Because the knee injury took away much of his explosiveness during his final college season — forcing Price to settle for outside jumpers  — NBA scouts doubted his ability to be an effective point guard at the professional level.  On draft day, Price sat and watched 13 point guards go off the board before Larry Bird made him the 52nd pick for the Indiana Pacers.

Price moved ahead of Ford in the rotation for a time, and in the month of January, the rookie 2nd rounder average 10.4 points and 2.6 assists.  His confident swagger, outside shooting prowess — Price is hitting 1.4 treys per game in January — and ability to run the pick-and-roll have Indianapolis sports fans who follow the Pacers expecting big things from the life-tested Price.