SALT LAKE CITY — In 2009, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan were welcomed into the Hall of Fame.

Turns out, 2010 is when both Karl Malone and Ronnie Price will be able to call themselves Hall of Famers as well.

Price will beat The Mailman to the induction punch, though. The athletic Jazz guard will receive the ultimate honor next week from his alma mater, Utah Valley University; Malone has to wait until August to join Stockton and Sloan in Springfield, Mass.

"I'm really excited about it," said a smiling Price, who will be inducted into the UVU Hall of Fame on Thursday, Feb. 4. "It's a big honor."

Kinda fitting that the ceremony will take place during halftime of UVU's game against Texas-Pan American, seeing as Price is a Lone Star State native.

It's also quite fitting, considering Price left an incredible legacy at Utah Valley.

Price was the first Wolverine to make it to the NBA after averaging 19.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals in 89 starts at then-Utah Valley State College. Remarkably, Price was signed to a two-year contract prior to his rookie season with Sacramento in 2005 despite not being drafted.

Price joined the Jazz in 2007, and the five-year NBA veteran has since provided Utah with an energetic spark.

The business management major credits UVU coach Dick Hunsaker for giving him a chance, even saying his old mentor is "a lot of the reason" why he's in the NBA today.

Price transferred to UVSC when it was a junior college after playing his freshman season at Nicholls State. He bolstered the Wolverines as they transitioned into an NCAA Division I program, and would've been the nation's No. 3 scorer as a senior with his 24.3-point average had the school not been a provisional Div. I member.

"The school was great to me," Price said. "I always hoped that I did the right thing when I was there."

This tribute, he admitted, is an appreciated confirmation in the affirmative.

Price is especially thrilled that his wife and baby daughter, along with his mom, dad and sister from Friendswood, Texas (near Houston), will be there to share and celebrate the special moment.

"I'm just glad that they'll be able to be a part of all of this," Price said. "I'm really honored to have a chance to be in the UVU Hall of Fame."

Basketball isn't the only reason UVU is close to Price's heart. That's where he met his wife, Jenni.

"In her eyes, that's the No. 1 best part," Price said, smiling and quickly adding, "and in my eyes it is, too."

GAINES GIDDY: Sundiata Gaines was giddy as can be Monday, when — his second 10-day contract since being called up from Idaho of the NBA Development League having expired — the rookie point guard formally signed with the Jazz and had his salary for the rest of the season fully guaranteed.

Somewhere in Jamaica, Queens, New York, Pat Gaines had to be smiling too.

"I'm pretty sure she'll be happy about it too," Gaines said of his mother. "Just seeing her son make it — I know it's making her proud."

The decision to retain Gaines seemed to be an easy one for the Jazz, who sound high on the University of Georgia product.

"Right from the beginning he's picked stuff up very well," coach Jerry Sloan said, "and he seems to have very good range on the defensive end getting up and guarding people.

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"He's adapted pretty well," Sloan added. "We like his upside."

HE SAID IT: Jazz point guard Deron Williams on longtime Jazz big man Jarron Collins, who was in town Monday with his new NBA team, a fast-paced Phoenix Suns team known in the past for its so-called "seven-seconds" offense: "I don't think he's one of those people that's allowed to shoot in seven seconds."

e-mail: jody@desnews.com, tbuckley@desnews.com

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