Although Tony Price is beginning his first head coaching job, basketball has been a major part of his life since he was the age of his 7-year-old son, Bayliss.
Price, who was introduced Monday at the new men’s basketball coach at Central Baptist College, has had extensive experience as a scout and recruiting liaison for several junior colleges in the South and Midwest. He previously worked as a coach and trainer with the Arkansas Prep School, an unsuccessful venture in the Little Rock area.
"Of the coaches on our staff, none had head coaching experience before they came here, yet we have had a lot of success," CBC athletic director Lyle Middleton said. "The important thing is not always experience. We were looking for the best fit for this college and we think he’s the best fit."
Middleton said Price was selected from a field of about 15 applicants. He’ll succeed Josh Austin, who resigned last month to become the head men’s coach at Williams Baptist College.
Price had been working in private business in his hometown of Cabot while maintaining his junior college scouting duties.
"This is where he wants to call home for a long time and that was one of the things we were looking for," Middleton said. "It was important to us that this job was not viewed as simply a stepping-stone."
"I want to stay here for the long term," said Price, who played at Cabot for coaches Ronnie Tollett and Johnny White (retiring athletic director) and Hall of Fame coach BIll Vining at Ouachita Baptist University. "I want to make this family and interact with the kids."
He said he not only wants to put quality athletes on the floor but will monitor academics carefully with a disciplined approach in preparing his players for future endeavors.
"I want to teach my players to look everybody in the eye and shake hands," he added. "I know there are guidelines at this school, but they are guidelines I’ve always try to live by. I can talk to 18-year-old kids because I’ve done it in scouting. I understand them. I think that’s my gift."
He said his preferred style is up-tempo.
"I want an athletic team that pushes the ball down the floor," he said. "I want to press and play an up-tempo brand of basketball. But of course, you go with what you recruit. If we get a 7-footer to come here, you go with things that work for a 7-footer."
A son of a coach, Price also credits Vining as one of his mentors.
"Coach Vining is the kind of guy that even after you finish playing, you want to call up and tell what’s happening and asked his thoughts," he said. "I want my players to be able to call me and they feel I can help them grow as men."
He is a single father.
After his collegiate career, Price continued to play with teams such as the Arkansas Express and Athletes in Action.
"I never stopped playing or working in basketball," he said. "That’s what got me to college. That’s why I want to work with kids. And I know great players can make a look good."