Every time I’ve talked to one of the players or coaches in the Cal Poly men’s basketball program, there’s one thing that always stands out: togetherness.
Even in a year where the team struggled to win games and particularly close them out, the team stayed together through adversity.
Their efforts could come to fruition as soon as next season, as Head Coach John Smith and the coaching staff have recruited four impact players into the program. Aaron Price Jr. is one of those players.
A true freshman with a high motor and a desire to improve coming off a state championship in Nevada.
Height/weight: 6’8, 195 lbs.
Previous school: Liberty High School
Eligibility: four years remaining
Last season’s stats: 9.2 points, 4.7 rebounds
The Mustangs added another wing player to the roster in Aaron Price Jr. His strength lies on the defensive end, where he can contribute with his high motor, length and athleticism.
“He’s a blank canvas that you can paint whatever you want,” Coach Smith said about Price’s potential.
Price was only able to play one season of varsity basketball due to transfer rules and COVID-19. In that one season, he helped lead Liberty High School over basketball powerhouse Bishop Gorman in the state championship game.
He hasn’t played as much basketball as his peers in his high school years, but that also gives the coaching staff an opportunity to help him develop the right habits and into a player that “at the end of four years could be better than this conference,” according to Coach Smith.
Price has all the makings of a player with a bright future. He’s a well-rounded student that earned a 4.5 GPA in high school along with playing the piano and cello. Price notably played hard on the defensive end for his AAU team, Las Vegas Elite. His role was to defend, get rebounds and finish around the rim.
AAU is predicated a lot on individual offensive play. At times there’s minimal defensive effort, but Price defended his man along with making help-defense plays despite not being a focal point on offense.
He has excellent versatility on defense. He can guard every position on the floor and excel in it. He could even be an option at the five if the teams want to employ a more aggressive coverage that utilizes his mobility.
Price has ways to go in terms of offensive skill, but there are positive indicators that he can improve. He isn’t a knockdown shooter but has solid mechanics which points to him improving down the line. He’ll occasionally show some touch with tough finishes, runners and midrange shots.
His best area on offense is as a roll man. Price gets out of his roll fast and puts pressure on the defense. It’s a subtle skill, but it forces the defense to account for him in the middle of the floor and opens up shots on the perimeter. If he gets the ball in the short roll, he can hit some short midrange shots over the top of the defense.
Price gives the Mustangs another long wing that can defend at the Division-I level. At the same time, he has the chance to grow into a crucial piece of the program in years to come.