In Prime Time, Price is right

BY DANNY PAYNE | JUNE 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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There was something different when watching Kevin Sanders’ team play on June 26. Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni and Josh Oglesby were taking passes from a different point guard, who happened to be a former Hawkeye.

It was Jason Price, making his début in his 16th year of Prime Time League basketball after missing the league’s opening week. A true point guard, Price dished out 9 assists to go along with 10 points on a rough 2-of-10 shooting.

Even though Sanders said his point guard has lost a step or two since his heyday, the graying 36-year-old managed to make his presence felt in more ways than one.

Price made sure to make sure everyone knew he was in the gym right off the bat. Not long after the opening tip-off, Price and Olaseni found themselves in a 2-on-1 fast break. The former lobbed the ball up and across the rim to the 6-10 center, who dunked it and left the rim shaking for the majority of the next possession.

“I didn’t expect him to throw it,” Olaseni said. “He said good job going up there to get it; we’ll have to do that again.”

It was just one of the plays involving Price that looked like something straight out of NBA Street Vol. 2 or AND1 Mixtape Tour. His shot was off, but it certainly didn’t hinder his overall play.

Price didn’t take his game too seriously, either. At a stoppage in play after a missed shot, he walked to a young spectator with a request.

“Can I borrow your jump shot?” Price jokingly asked.

Price had a noticeable impact on his team as well. Sanders’ crew ran a much higher-tempo offense, which can be largely attributed to Price’s pushing the ball.

For Sanders, the biggest contribution from the Hawkeye — who played from 1998-2000 — was his experience.

“[He brings] that veteran leadership. We didn’t have that the first game,” Sanders said. “The Jason Price of a few years ago, he would try to drive past everybody. Now, he’s taking more of mentor role with the younger players.”

Sanders said he prefers the new version of Price because of the nature of the league. It’s designed as a way for athletes to stay in shape in the off-season and develop their games. This applies particularly to Iowa and Northern Iowa players, who continually talk about focusing on one or two areas of their game.

“If I can keep pace and distribute the ball to the guys that [fans] want to see, it makes it fun,” Price said. “I try to use my experience and be a coach on the floor.”

Some may think that high-profile players like Olaseni wouldn’t listen to someone that isn’t their coach or that is a teammate in a league of secondary focus. When Price is involved, that isn’t the case.

“He just tries to keep it simple; he doesn’t try to say too much. He just gives each guy something to do and go out there and do it,” Olaseni said. “You always try to listen to the older guys — even though he’s not on [Iowa], you respect what he says and try to implement what he does.”

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