EDEN —Several dozen aspiring Morehead Panthers came out for three days of instruction at the 2019 City Stars Basketball Academy which was held Monday through Wednesday at the high school gymnasium.
Panthers head coach Damien Price, the staff and current varsity players all assisted the campers teaching the fundamentals of the sport at the annual event.
Price, who played college basketball at the University of North Carolina under former head coach Matt Daugherty and current head coach Roy Williams, said most of the camps he attended during his youth were very much the same as far as structure and techniques.
“I tell you what, there are a lot of similarities. I can’t think of very many differences that coach Williams and coach Dougherty taught me compared to what my dad (David Price) taught me. That’s the thing, no matter where you go, you are going to hear the same things as far as fundamentals and go over and over those techniques — shooting, balance, elbows, eyes, follow-through, the way you play defense, the way you make passes, dribbling, keeping your head up and being unselfish – those are the things that you learn at camps throughout the nation really,” Price said.
With that said, he believes a lot of what goes into making a player good or even a great one boils down to the individual and one key ingredient – hard work.
“The one main thing that stuck out with me through camps growing up, I went to a lot of camps and played with a lot of famous players at the time and the one thing that really stuck out was that they were all teaching the same things as far as fundamentals go. They told us, ‘you are not going to get good at camp. You are going to have to take these techniques home and work on them so that it will translate into your game.’ That’s one thing I try to teach these kids, go home and work on it over and over and over and that’s when you will get really good at it,” Price said.
Fellow North Carolina alumni Michael Jordan, who many consider the greatest player of all-time in the NBA, developed a reputation as the hardest worker on the team from the moment he set foot on the court at UNC even though he had a natural God-given talent.
“I remember hearing a story when I was playing at Carolina, they had lost in the NCAA tournament and coach Smith told the team to take two weeks off. Coach Smith came in the next day to his office and heard a ball bouncing and there was Michael in there working on his game. There’s not a lot of people around like that, but the harder you work, the more you improve and he’s the perfect example of that. He had the talent and the work ethic to strive to get better and it took him all the way to the top,” the coach said.
Price said that spring and summer workouts at Morehead have been good and he hopes that is going to translate into more wins in the upcoming 2019-2020 season.
“We had really big turnouts. We went to an overnight camp at NC State – there was a fee involved, so it wasn’t mandatory, but I was really pleased with the big turnout. We’ve had virtually full team participation throughout the spring and summer. We work really well with the football team as far as sharing time with the guys that play both sports and what-not, so I was really pleased with the way the kids came out,” said Price.
He believes the Panthers were close to being a really good team last season, but just didn’t know how to finish in games that came down to the wire.
“I think we will be very competitive, which we were last year. We lost a whole lot of close games. What I’m counting on – we are a senior led group – hopefully they’ve learned. They’ve come through the ringer and now hopefully they’ll know how to pull those close games out and come out on top. A lot of those games last year that we lost, we had a chance to win.”
In addition, now that Price has a season under his belt, he thinks the players are coming around and embracing the system he and his staff have put in place.
“It seems like early on, it was a little bit of a power struggle, but I think that I have won the guys over. They are listening and trying and doing the right things. I know I have a little bit of a different philosophy than what they were used to, but they are buying in. They started to see some success over the summer and hopefully that, and them continuing to work, will carry on through the summer and into the season,” Price said.