Price embarks on return to 'elite' athlete

10/19/2004 - Connecticut Huskies

The first step in A.J. Price's recovery might be simply to take out the trash.

The University of Connecticut freshman guard was recovering at his home in Amityville, N.Y., on Tuesday, after spending two weeks in the hospital recovering from a life-threatening intracranial hemorrhage.

But when -- and if -- the freshman guard returns to Connecticut to attend school and play the point for the defending national champions is a question without an answer.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun had left practice Monday for a speaking engagement when he received a phone call from Price's family saying that A.J. was being released. The Prices waited for Calhoun to arrive at the hospital so he could see A.J. before they left for N.Y.

"It was an emotional meeting for about an hour,'' Calhoun said Tuesday. "A.J. has a great desire to play again. He's gone home now, but we've already had our victory with him walking out of the hospital. It was very emotional for all of our (basketball) family to see him walk out and jump into that car.''

Price developed flu-like symptoms on Sept. 29. Three days later he had a headache that wouldn't go away. Team medical officials sent him for a CAT scan on Oct. 4, where the hemorrhage was discovered. He was flown by helicopter from Windham to Hartford Hospital, where he spent most of his two-week stay in the neurological intensive care unit. Price had walked on his own to get the CAT scan.

Price, who celebrated his 18th birthday Oct. 7, had a pulmonary setback along the way, according to Calhoun.

Calhoun said part of Price's initial rehabilitation is to ensure he doesn't sleep the day away after getting "poked and prodded" for weeks. He said Price's team of doctors released him without restrictions, but there is no estimate as to when he would start doing an "elite athletic" type of work.

"The goal would be to get him back to an elite athletic status,'' Calhoun said. "There will be a few days out of the 365 that he doesn't remember anything. He will get himself back. He's an athlete. He might do treadmill, walking, walking outside to get him into normal condition. Then he could get back to elite athletic condition.''

Calhoun said the first hurdle was to determine if Price wanted to continue playing -- which he does. The next one is Price's parents, Tony and Inga, feeling comfortable enough to let him play. The third obstacle will be whether the NCAA gives Price a pass for the missed class time, since he might find it hard to fulfill academic requirements for this semester (he must have 18 hours completed by June).

"We're talking to the NCAA about allowing him to take a lesser load than 12, maybe take some independent courses, too,'' Calhoun said.

The Huskies are planning on going through the season without Price. They spent the first few days of practice working freshman Antonio Kellogg at the point, instead of at his more natural shooting guard as an option to likely starter Marcus Williams.

"We don't have any set plans for A.J.," Calhoun said. "We'll see what A.J. and the family want to do."

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.