In a game tied at 14 early against Manhattan, Marist senior Devin Price’s three pointer with 8:34 left in the first half was the Red Foxes’ fifth point of an 11-0 run. That run helped Marist stretch its lead as large as 15 against the team picked second in the MAAC preseason poll. A lead that they would hold on to for a 62-58 win Friday night.
The significance of Price’s seventh point of his eventual 14, is it made him the 28th player in school history to score 1,000 points.
“It’s a milestone that I’ve only dreamed about,” Price said. “It’s amazing that it’s become reality.”
“It’s something that I take a lot of pride in and I know my family back home is proud of me so it’s something that really helps me get through being so far away. Being able to play and succeed and make the people that care about me really proud, it’s a great milestone for me.”
Price became the first player since 2008 to score all 1,000 points in a Marist uniform and the first to do it under head coach Chuck Martin.
“I think his 1,000 points is a real reflection of my career here at Marist,” Martin said. “It’s just been hard and a struggle but when you finally turn it around and finally accomplish something as great as 1,000 points. For us we’re at a point in our program where people are talking good things about us, you also reap the rewards of all that hard work and all that struggle.”
Price, whose family lives close to Los Angeles, said that his first conversation on the phone after meeting Martin for the first time in New Jersey sold him on heading to Marist.
“I was basically trying to get him to tell me if he was going to start me as a freshman,” Price said. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘No. Look, if you’re going to start, you’re going to earn it. I got a point guard here named R.J. Hall who’s also a really good player.’”
“That challenge just kind of got my wheels spinning. That’s the type of coach I needed that was going to challenge me and make me earn anything that I have.”
“He’s earned every point that got him to 1,000, every single one of them,” Martin said. “He’s turned himself into a heck of a player and a heck of a leader.”
Price entered as a freshman and played in all 30 games, started 22 and averaged 9.1 points per game for a team that went 1-29. In his second season Price started 17 of 24 games he played in and led the team with 75 assists.
“My first couple years, we were so young, we had so many off the court issues here and there that we really had no identity,” Price said. “We were just playing. This year I think you’re seeing a confident team, a team that has its ups and downs but a team that knows who they are and what we want to do and I think that’s starting to show in our games.”
After his sophomore year, Price said he swallowed his pride and asked for help to refine his game with the coaching staff, calling it a turning point in his career. After watching film and working out with the coaches and working out in the summer, Price said he came back eager to learn.
“I realized I couldn’t do it by myself,” Price said. “I realized I had a lot to learn. I worked hard and when I came back I was a sponge.”
“I listened to everything both offensively and defensively where I kind of know what he’s going to say before he says it on the floor so when you have that type of mindset and you’re on the same page as your head coach, you just play with a confidence because you know what he wants.”
Since his junior year began, Price has started every single game and become the leader on the court for Marist. That development culminated in a career-best performance on Marist’s senior night, going for 32 points in the Red Foxes’ 89-77 win over Niagara.
Price said one main reason it was his favorite game was because his family was at the game for the first time since his freshman year, when he went for a then career-high 18 points at UC-Irvine.
“I had my mom there, she hadn’t seen me play in a couple of years,” Price said. “My dad was there so for the first time playing in front of some family members since being at Cal Irvine my freshman year it was an amazing day for me and I’ll never forget it.”
“He was in a zone,” Martin said. “He was the best player by far on the floor.”
“It was one of those moments where you kind of look back in your career every place you’ve been at whether it’s Memphis, St. John’s, Drexel, UMass and now at Marist there was always a game and a player that you’re like, ‘That dude that night was unbelievable.’ For me the Devin Price Niagara game here at Marist was the game for me where he was just unreal.”
Price’s 32 points on the February 28th game was the most scored by a Division I player that day. Martin said that Price was able to establish a rhythm and get comfortable without having to call plays from the bench.
“I may have called two or three plays for him but really there was just a rhythm and a flow to the game,” Martin said. “That’s what made made it beautiful to watch because it wasn’t manipulated by me. The ball kept finding him and he kept finding the rim and it was neat to watch.”
Price has stepped into the leadership role in his senior season as the veteran leader of the starting lineup that includes sophomores Chavaughn Lewis and Isaiah Morton to go with juniors Jay Bowie and Adam Kemp.
“I’ve experienced a lot here at Marist,” Price said. “I think I have a lot of the respect in the locker room and in my senior year, that’s something that I’d really like to pride myself on, be remembered for being a tough player that never gives up and led his team.”
“He does a great job in timeouts,” Martin said. “He does a great job in the locker room before practice and during practice.”
“He gets it right now, as a senior, so I’ll trust him if he tells me I can guard this guy a certain way even if I go into a game thinking we’re going to guard it a different way. At this point in our relationship I’ll trust him if he tells me hey I think we can do this I’ll trust him and kind of go with it.”
For now Marist, after starting 1-1 in the MAAC and beating SEC opponent Vanderbilt in the Old Spice Classic, appears to be hitting their stride as they hit further conference play in January.
“I think we’re still a work in progress,” Price said. “I think we still got a long way to go but I like the direction the team is going.”
“We have a confidence about us right now in the locker room. I can feel it, the coaches can feel it, we can feel it at practice. We’re ready to do some good things.”
Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo.