Friday, December 14, 2001

DAUGHERTY: Fallen star failed to use ability




By Paul Daqugherty
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Talent can be a curse. That's the essence of the promising, puzzling, sad story of Lloyd Price. If you can vertical-leap a kitchen table and shoot a basketball like it's a guided missile, maybe you skimp on the little things.

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        You don't work hard enough, you take the easy way out. A few days before a season you believe will propel you to the NBA, your ankle twists. The leaps become hops, and everything you thought you knew about your future is gone.

        Lloyd Price came to Xavier as the school's highest-rated recruit. He left three years later without a degree. Barely a month ago, he supposedly robbed $750 from a Teaneck, N.J., convenience store.

        The lesson is obvious and often ignored: Don't neglect your talent. What was assured yesterday is a mirage tomorrow. And, oh yeah, don't knock off convenience stores. Allegedly.

        Maybe he'll watch the game tonight, with his wife and family back in Wilmington, Del. Quite possibly, Lloyd Price will relive the moment of a year ago, when he was the hero of the Crosstown Shootout.

        Willing to take risks

        Price stole Steve Logan's dribble near midcourt with 32 seconds to play and Cincinnati ahead by one. He took two dribbles after that, maybe three. His oversized arms and legs got him to the basket in a blink. The layup sealed the biggest win of Xavier's year.

        “That was Lloyd, man,” David West said Wednesday.

        Audacious bordering on reckless. That was Lloyd. He went for a steal 40 feet from the basket. If he misses and fouls Logan, he's putting the opponent's best free throw shooter on the line with too much time on the clock.

        But that was Lloyd. He always figured his ability would get him through. He iced the Shootout the previous year, too, stealing a pass, then leaping out of bounds and calling timeout in midair.

        Now, he's accused of a different theft. Supposedly, Price pulled the hood of a sweatshirt over his face Nov.21, then pulled a starter's pistol on the cashier at a convenience store close to the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University. Price transferred there this year, after telling former XU coach Skip Prosser in March he couldn't stay on track to graduate. There is a sad irony in that.

        “The happiest I saw Lloyd at Xavier,” Prosser recalled Wednesday, “was when he told me he made a 3.0 (grade-point average). First semester freshman year.” Prosser used to tell Price, “When you leave here, you could be mayor of Wilmington.” Price was a bright, personable kid.

        Taking easy way out

        He dropped the starter's pistol. Probably, Price was nervous. His lawyer, Craig Weis, said Wednesday his client had no criminal record. When Price picked up the pistol, the clerk saw his face and recognized him. Price was a frequent customer.

        The clerk got the license of the getaway car, which police found parked by a dormitory. Price was sleeping in a dorm room. One more time, taking the easy road.

        “Some things other guys needed time to work on, he had naturally,” West said. “I don't want to say that was part of his undoing, (but) a lot of guys aren't blessed with that kind of ability.”

        Price's case is pending. He is charged with armed robbery and a weapons offense. And, unofficially, of blowing it. Players who fly also can crash.

        Contact Paul Daugherty at 768-8454; fax: 768-8550; e-mail: pdaugherty@enquirer.com.
       

       



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- DAUGHERTY: Fallen star failed to use ability

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