A.J. Price is no longer a high- schooler. Sure, he
still has another six weeks of classes before officially graduating from
Amityville. But with his stellar three-year basketball career behind him, the
gifted point guard finds himself in the purgatory that every high school star
must face along the journey to college.
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It's a time of uncertainty and excitement. So many have tried and failed at
the next level to recapture the magic that made them kings of the playground
when they were younger.
One era ended the moment Price stepped off the Glens Falls Civic Center
court for the final time after playing his eighth stellar game there. Despite
25 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals from Price, Section III champ
Jamesville-DeWitt upended Amityville, 56-52, to capture the Class A state
public schools championship in March.
Rather than dwell on it, Price simply shrugged off the game. "I didn't see
the loss as a disappointment," said Price, the 13th recipient of Newsday's
Richard Sandler Award as Suffolk Player of the Year after averaging a Long
Island-best 29 points and 8 rebounds in 15 games. "I would have liked to go out
winning. But basketball for me is just beginning. I hope to have a long
Of course, enjoying the confidence of his future coach can ease any
jitters. With the defection of Ben Gordon to the NBA and the graduation of
Taliek Brown, UConn loses two of the top assist men in the Big East. The
Huskies are bringing in just one player with the requisite ballhandling and
passing skills to fill the void. Weeks after guiding Connecticut to its second
national championship, Jim Calhoun gushed about the 6-2, 189-pound Price. "We
put all our eggs in one basket with A.J.," he said. "He's got a chance to be a
Calhoun and the Connecticut faithful may come to know the same Price whom
Long Island fans watched in wonder for three seasons. He led Amityville to
three Long Island championships and a pair of Class B state crowns. After
serving an early-season suspension this season, Price returned to the lineup
and the Warriors surged into the Class A state Final Four.
His dazzling shooting ability and leadership made Price an easy choice as
the Sandler winner. He won it for the second year in a row in an overwhelming
vote of coaches, officials and sportswriters. "He's the best clutch shooter
I've ever seen," said his coach, Jack Agostino. Brentwood junior forward John
Garcia was the other finalist.
Price finished as Amityville's most prolific three-point shooter (130) and
was third in points (1,394) behind previous Sandler winners Jason Fraser and
Tristan Smith. That's great for the resume, but Price has moved on. His goal is
to forge a new reputation at Connecticut. "They're not going to give me
anything," he said. "But I expect to start."