Armintie Price will wrap up her Ole Miss "home" career on Sunday, a career that has turned into one of the most successful and celebrated in Ole Miss sports history. Put it this way. She is now one of only five players in women's college basketball to ever score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds, dish out 300 assists, and have 300 steals.
The others? Headlining national names from women's basketball history - Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Sophia Young.
Price has been named SEC Player of the Week four times this season, which brings her total to nine overall selections for the award. The nine are the most by any individual in the history of the SEC.
But if you kept up with her career before college, you'd know two things at least. One, she was an extraordinary player in high school. In the final game of her prep career, her Myrtle High team won the state title in Class A, and she scored 51 points while grabbing 25 rebounds.
That grabbed my attention as to what we might see from her for the next four years at Ole Miss.
She committed and signed with Ole Miss under Coach Ron Aldy and staff. She remained true to her word when Aldy was relieved of his duties and Carol Ross was hired.
Good thing for Ross and company. The Rebel head coach, along with assistants Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Renee Rutland Ladner, and Jocelyn McGilberry, have been the beneficiaries of Price keeping her commitment to Ole Miss after a change in coaches.
But what at that point were even her options if she decided to go elsewhere? Ole Miss was the best choice by far that she had.
"Nobody offered her a scholarship except Appalachian State, Troy State, and Ole Miss," said her high school coach, John Sherman. "That was it. Here she was, this outstanding player, and very few people wanted her."
Sherman said he didn't step in to help her out all that much when it came to the recruiting process. But at times he would lend some advice.
"At one point she set up an official visit to Gardner-Webb College," he said.
Sherman also said that was one time he offered a suggestion.
"How many people really know where Gardner-Webb is anyway? I nixed that one for her," he said.
For the record, Gardner-Webb is in Boiling Springs, N.C. Just so you'll know. I know I didn't know.
Price's basketball roots were not like most players who succeed as she has in high school and college.
"Unlike a lot of girls," Sherman said, "she didn't dream of playing college basketball. She didn't dream of playing for the Lady Rebels or the Lady Vols or any team. She never went to hoops camp except the ones I put on. She told me she had never held a basketball in her hands until she was in the eighth grade."
That was less than 10 years ago. Now Price is one of the elite players to ever play at Ole Miss and in the SEC. And even in college basketball period.
Certainly the numbers prove that. Those numbers also include winning and postseason play.
Lady Rebel basketball had a proud and winning tradition in the 1980s and through the mid-90s. There were no NCAA Tournament appearances from 1997 through 2003. When the new staff took over and Price was a freshman, things changed. Ole Miss will make the NCAA Tournament field this year, and it will mark the third time in four years that's been the case. Last year the Lady Rebels made the NIT.
So as was the case in her high school days, success followed Price to college. As she and her classmates – Ashley Awkward and Jada Mincy – say farewell to Tad Smith Coliseum and the home fans who have supported them for four years, it will be an emotional time moments before the Rebels host Auburn Sunday at 2 p.m.
Price lost her mother to cancer last summer. There have been ups and downs before and since. Her teammates and coaches helped her along. But she helped them too. They were there for her; she was there for them.
"I told the (former) staff at Ole Miss when they were recruiting her that she would become the centerpiece of their team," Sherman said. "I think they found that out on her first recruiting trip. Since then a lot of other people around the country have found out about Armintie Price."
That they have.
Price wraps up her time at Tad Smith Sunday
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