There’s a first time for everything, as Paige Price is proving.
The 6-foot-1 guard from Melbourne, Australia, became the first commit in the 2021 recruiting class for Indiana women’s basketball and coach Teri Moren late Monday night.
She’ll be the first Australian to play for the Hoosiers when she sets foot in Bloomington for the first time next year, which is a result of the coronavirus pandemic preventing Price from taking her official visits this spring.
“Happy to announce that I have decided to verbally commit to Indiana University,” Price posted on Instagram. “Forever grateful to my family, friends and coaches that have helped with my growth over the years, couldn’t have made it this far without you.”
She chose IU over fellow finalists Arizona State and Duke.
“I had done some unofficial visits last year, so I was fortunate enough to at least get a feel for the USA college game,” Price told The Herald-Times via direct message. “I had toured Duke with a state-based elite type squad from my home state in 2017 and toured ASU last year. I wasn’t able to tour Indiana, but we have a lot of contacts over there in the States who all said it would be a great fit, playing and culturally, and I built up a very strong relationship with (assistant) coach Rhet (Wierzba) and Coach Moren really quickly where it felt right.”
While Price didn’t get the chance to visit in person, technology provided a chance to know more about the Hoosiers.
“We had a virtual official (visit) and the video I got sent had girls scrapping and large passionate crowds and it felt like where I am from in Melbourne from that point of view,” she said. “I love fanbases that are all in.”
Price has been all in on the game of basketball since she was a youngster and has represented her home country at the U15, U16 and U17 levels. She is scheduled to play for the U17 Australian team in August’s World Cup, though the fate of that tournament is in doubt. She was also selected to attend the NBA Basketball Without Borders Asia Camp in 2018 and received a scholarship from the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, where she averaged 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in the inaugural season of NBL1 against older, more experienced players.
More recently, Price has been a development player with the Melbourne Boomers of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). It is the same team her mother, Simone, played nearly 150 games with when the team was known as the Bulleen Boomers. The year Simone retired was the first year future standout Lauren Jackson played for the club.
The Boomers had a pair of WNBA imports on the roster in Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen and Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham. Allen gave the state of Indiana a strong endorsement, while Cunningham is one of Price’s idols.
“She was my favorite college player, so it had a big impact on me joining that team,” Price said. “I was really looking forward to training with her every day. I love her, and she plays hard.”
Playing hard is a point of pride for Price, who thinks of herself as a player in the mode of Penny Taylor, a former WNBL MVP and three-time WNBA champion with the Phoenix Mercury, for whom Taylor is now an assistant coach.
“I love the way Elena Delle Donne plays, but I am shorter than her,” Price said. “(I’m) probably more of a Penny Taylor style, tall guard, can shoot the 3 and I like to go hard.”
Price has played every position on the court at some point, mostly on the perimeter and primarily as a shooting guard. Her toughness is a family affair, as her brother is 6-8 and played in the post, while her dad was an amateur Australian Rules Football player. Price even played the game for a year.
“I found it makes you love hard contact in games,” she said. “(It’s) really good for rebounding.”
In December Price led Box Hill, the same school Ben Simmons attended, to the Australian Schools Championship and then turned her attention to the recruiting process, narrowing the list to three schools in early February.
There was just something about Indiana that stood out.
“The first thing I noticed when I saw some games was the candy-stripe pants, which reminded of the USA flag, which I thought was cool,” Price said. “Then I watched a lot of the games and the girls play team first and go hard, which is how I like to play.
“The more my dad and I looked into Indiana as a place, the more we liked. Dad has also seen the movie, “Hoosiers,” which he said was cool.”
By Monday, Price was ready to make a decision, a process that started with another first — a Zoom meeting with the IU players.
“I loved the vibe of the team, so I was excited to let the coaches know,” Price said.
She did so in another Zoom meeting, and now Price is a Hoosier.
“Everything about IU felt right, but I had to be sure,” she said.