Howard Pride is rightly known as one of the foremost players in Coach Jack Doss long list of basketball superstars at Huntsvilles gone-but-not-forgotten Butler High School. If not right at the top, Pride deserves at least equal billing alongside such worthies as Tony McGinnis, Bryant Smith, Courtney Beasley, Trevor Lacey, and another of tonights Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame honorees, Delvin Sullivan. Doss once called Pride "the best leader I ever had because hes so unselfish." Thats high praise indeed coming from a coach who has won eight state championships at three different Alabama high schools, five of them at Butler sandwiched between two at Hayes of Birmingham and one at Johnson of Huntsville. Even as a 7th and 8th grader at Stone Middle School, Pride was already getting air time on the citys three television stations and making headlines on the sports pages of The Huntsville Times and The Huntsville News. At Butler, he started right away as true freshman and, remarkably, never missed a single game in four years. Doss called him "The General." Said Pride: "Coach gave me an opportunity to start as a freshman and had a vision for me long before I had one for myself. Im grateful to him for having the confidence in me that gave me the necessary confidence to excel in the classroom and on the basketball court." Pride averaged 20-plus points and led the Rebels in both scoring and assists as a junior and a senior, and was named 6A Player of the Year and Mr. Basketball for the state of Alabama his senior year in 1993. He then joined the roster at Vanderbilt University, having chosen the Commodores over Alabama, Auburn and Northwestern. He became 4-year letterman for Eddie Fogler and Jan van Breda Kolff at Vandy, played three times in the NIT, was named the Most Inspirational Player at the team banquets in 1995 and 96, and was elected team captain and picked on the All-SEC Academic Team as a senior in 1997. Basketball has remained a major part of his life ever since. After departing Vanderbilt with a degree in Human and Organizational Development and a minor in Sociology, Pride moved a few miles across town to become an assistant coach at Nashvilles Belmont University, then served on Mark Gottfrieds staff at Alabama for a year before taking another career path in coaching the high schools. Over the next 15 years, his head coaching stops included two years at Decatur High School, making the state playoffs the first year and finishing as the state runner-up the second year. He later coached at Montgomery Bell Academy, Warren County, Tenn., Westminster Christian and Alma Bryant of Mobile. In 2013, he earned a Masters of Art degree from Trevecca University, and in 2014 he returned to his hometown area, accepting an assistants job with Hall of Fame head coach Danny Petty at James Clements High School in Madison. "I hope to stay at this school until they roll me out in a wheelchair," Pride told Madison Weekly News reporter Bob Labbe. He also added, "Im humbled beyond measure to now be alongside a coaching legend in Danny Petty." Only 42 years old, Prides best days in coaching appear to lie ahead. His future would seem to hold even greater promise as he pursues his long-range goals in the sport of basketball. It seems an improbable story now, but what many might not know is how close he came to choosing baseball over basketball as his high school career wound down 23 years ago. Before his senior season in basketball at Butler, Pride played wide receiver in football for the first time in high school. He was good enough to make All-City at wide receiver. After basketball season, he also played centerfield and first base on Butlers baseball team for the third year, and he was good enough to be picked by the California Angels in the 42nd round of the Major League draft. "I played baseball because my best friends did, so I joined in," Pride told Labbe. Pride seriously pondered the offer from the Angels. His parents, Emerson and Louise Pride, told their son the decision was up to him. In the end, he chose to accept Vanderbilts basketball scholarship, realizing that signing a professional baseball contract out of the 42nd round would be risky business. He also knew part of the deal specified that if Pride chose to go to college in the off-season, his higher education expenses would be deducted from his baseball salary. Taking Vanderbilts offer of a full ride made more sense.