Price set to join NBA brotherhood Bullets No. 2 draftee has perfect role model

July 05, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

Last summer in Enid, Okla., Denny Price, who had coached sons Mark and Brent in high school and now runs the program at Phillips University, employed his sons as instructors in his basketball camp.

"We helped the kids run through all the drills," said Brent, a guard at Oklahoma who was the Washington Bullets' second-round pick in the NBA draft on June 24. "And then my father announced, 'Now, for a special treat, we'll have Mark and Brent go one-on-one.'

"It caught me by surprise," he added. "My father knew that when Mark and I played each other, it almost always ended in a fight. BTC both very competitive, but this was one of those rare times I beat him. And I didn't offer him a rematch."

The rematch could come this fall if Brent wins a backcourt job with the Bullets and gets a chance to play against his brother, the point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Separated in age by almost five years, they are close enough in looks and physique to be mistaken for twins.

Their basketball backgrounds are also remarkably similar. Mark, like Brent, was considered a gamble when he graduated from Georgia Tech. He was selected on the second round in 1986 by the Dallas Mavericks, who traded him on draft day to Cleveland.

Two years later, the Cavaliers thought enough of him to send Kevin Johnson to the Phoenix Suns, and Mark Price now is considered one of the NBA's premier point guards.

"Being compared to an NBA All-Star isn't bad at all," Brent said. "It's been that way since I started to play in junior high. And I don't think it's going to change any time soon. It doesn't bother me. It makes me work that much harder to improve my game.

"We played a lot of games against each other the last two summers, when I helped Mark run his basketball camp in Atlanta. You don't know how tough it is to keep him from scoring. But I also think it's getting tougher each year for him to stop me."

Asked about their friendly rivalry, Mark said: "I'm glad I'm the older one. It puts more pressure on Brent. Even when he played two years at South Carolina, people who knew me at Georgia Tech were comparing us. I don't think it's fair, but that's the way it is."

There was pressure placed on Brent when, in 1989, after voicing displeasure with the deliberate style of basketball employed by George Fenton at South Carolina, he transferred to Oklahoma to join Billy Tubbs' run-and-gun Sooners.

His arrival at the Norman campus was greeted with fanfare. His father had been an All-Big Eight player there in the 1960s and later was an assistant coach under John MacLeod. Now, he would be compared not only with his brother, but also with his father.

After sitting out a year, Brent expected to join an explosive Sooners team featuring Jackie Jones, Damon Patterson and Smokey McCovery. As things developed, all three became ineligible.

"My junior year was the most disappointing season I ever experienced," he said. "The worst thing probably was scoring 56 points against Loyola Marymount [Oklahoma won, 172-112] early the year. After that, everyone felt if I didn't score 30 a game, something was wrong."

Despite a lingering case of walking pneumonia, Price averaged 17.5 points and made 97 steals his junior season.

After an extensive summer weight program that added 15 pounds to his bony, 6-foot-1 frame (putting him at 175 pounds), everything seemed to fall in place for Price this past season. After making the switch from shooting guard to playmaker, he averaged 18.7 points and led the Sooners in assists, steals and three-point shots.

He auditioned for the pro scouts in the tournaments in Portsmouth, Va., and Orlando, Fla., and the final June NBA camp in Chicago, where he played for Bullets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik.

"What impressed me most about Brent is his relentless hustle," said Bzdelik. "He's tough-minded, like his brother. If there's a loose ball, he's diving on the floor for it. He's an excellent shooter, but he still has to prove he can play the point."

Price's Stats

Season.. .. .. ..G.. ..Reb... ..Ast... .. .. .. Pts.

1987-88.. .. .. 29.. . 1.6.. .. 2.7.. .. .. .. .10.7

1988-89.. .. .. 30.. ..2.5.. .. 4.3.. .. .. ... 14.4

OKLAHOMA 61990-91.. .. .. 35.. ..3.6.. .. 5.5.. .. .. .. .17.5

1991-92.. .. .. 30.. ..3.7.. .. 6.2.. .. .. .. .18.7

Totals.. .. .. 124.. ..2.9.. .. 4.7.. .. .. .. .15.5

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