Price joins UCA men’s basketball staff

CONWAY –  Jeff Price is the newest member of the University of Central Arkansas men’s basketball coaching staff, joining head coach Anthony Boone’s staff as associate head coach.

Price comes to UCA from Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, where he was head men’s basketball coach as well as athletic director.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to get someone of his experience, both coaching and in administration,” said Boone, who will be entering his second full season at the helm of the program and his eighth overall at UCA. “He’s been a head coach for 20 years and he’s been the AD for the past eight years.

“[He has] a ton of experience. And, also, he was a really good recruiter at the junior college he was at,” he said. “They didn’t have as many scholarships as a lot of his colleagues in the conference they played in. But he was still able to bring in good talent. He’s a good evaluator of talent. I feel very fortunate that he was in a situation where he is willing to come work with us here.” 

Coach Jeff Price

Price coached at Sinclair since 2000 and added the duties of athletic director in 2013. While at Sinclair, his teams won more than 300 games and sent 75 players on to four-year universities, including senior Sean McNeil who plays currently for No. 18 West Virginia. Prior to Sinclair, Price coached at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., and at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va.

“We were in line at a NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) convention at the (NCAA) Final Four,” Price said. “We started chatting and I think the first thing that linked us in was I mentioned something about Disney. Coach Boone is a huge Disney fan and I told him I was a cast member and that really started the whole ball rolling.

“And Coach Boone is absolutely the reason I wanted to come here. I’ve known him for a number of years and what a great man,” Price continued. “He’s high character, high integrity, he’s incredibly smart and a gifted basketball coach, so that was the first draw. He’s been here a number of years and we’ve been in contact and he’s spoken very highly of UCA, the great people that are here, the institution, academically.

“It seems like everybody here has been here for two or three decades. They love it here. Every time I meet someone, they are like they have this feeling like this is their first day even though they’ve been here 20 years. They still speak of UCA like it’s their first day.”

Boone said he is glad to finally be working with Price.

“We saw pretty quickly that we were of like mind and saw the same opportunities in being involved in the profession of coaching basketball on the college level,” Boone said. 

Price said he is anxious to get started, for a number of reasons. One, Sinclair did not participate in athletics at all last year due to the pandemic. Two, he missed being just a basketball coach.

“I’m looking forward to just being a basketball coach again,” Price said. “There are some things that I can bring with me, the administrative side, knowing how to do some things, a different thought process… You only know how to do something once you do it. You don’t know how to be a head coach until you do it. No one can really prepare you for it.

“But now that I’ve done that for a number of years, I think I can really assist this staff on the little things that I’ve acquired over the years.”

Boone and Price both agree it is an exciting time to be at UCA as the athletic program moves into the ASUN Conference beginning July 1.

“I think I’m coming in at a really great time,” Price said. “I’m blessed to have been chosen to come in at this time. entering a new conference, a really good conference, and getting to expand into new regions. I just can’t wait to be part of the success we’re going to have. Hopefully looking back 5 or 10 years from now, we’ll be saying this is where it started.” 

Brock Widders, who came to UCA as a graduate assistant in 2017-18, will continue as a full-time assistant on the 2021-22 staff. John Cranford, who came to UCA from Liberty University, has been elevated to a full-time assistant after serving as a graduate assistant and then director of basketball operations over the past two seasons.   

“I’m really looking forward to working with Brock and John,” Price said. “They are going to teach me so much. They are the young coaches, they are the guys with the energy. Those two are the next great coaches and they’re just starting their careers and I can’t wait to spend more time with them.”