CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former NBA guard Mark Price is experiencing some growing pains in his first year as the North Carolina Charlotte basketball coach.

Price’s team is off a 2-9 start, although he’s optimistic it’s headed in the right direction.

“It’s been a big adjustment, I’m not going to lie,” said Price, who spent the previous two seasons working as an assistant on Steve Clifford’s staff with the Charlotte Hornets.

“There are so many more irons in the fire when you’re talking about the recruiting side and the academic side. Guys in the NBA, you are used to working with them and they have families to go home to or whatever. These kids are kind of your responsibility 24-7.”

Not that Price is complaining.

He’s relishing his first college head coaching opportunity and likes his team despite entering a tough situation in Charlotte.

Shortly after he was hired, four key players, including three starters, transferred from the program, leaving the shelves fairly bare and forcing Price into an immediate mass recruiting role. Among the transfers included Torn Dorn, the Conference USA freshman of the year last season who moved on to North Carolina State.

Center Mike Thorne (Illinois), forward Willie Clayton (Georgia State), top reserve Keyshawn Woods (Wake Forest) all transferred in the spring and top recruit Ebuka Izundu backed out of his commitment to Charlotte and enrolled at Miami.

Price said his new players are still getting to know each other on and off the court with most of them never having played together before.

That isn’t easy, said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III after the Hoyas’ 62-59 win over Charlotte earlier this week.

“It’s an extremely difficult situation when so many players leave,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the 49ers are better than their record and saw how well they were coached from watching them on film.

Price said he knew he would lose some players to transfer but wasn’t sure how many.

Price, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech who played 12 seasons in the NBA, including nine with the Cleveland Cavaliers, was nominated for enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this week. He said he didn’t take the players’ decisions personally, knowing it’s part of the ever-changing landscape of college basketball.

“All you can do is go out and restock and start over again,” Price said. “… It’s seems like that’s where college basketball is at right now. There were more than 700 transfers last year. It’s like a cancer or something.”

Price tries to stay positive.

“In a way it’s been good because I’ve gotten to bring in my own guys right away and start from scratch,” Price said. “Although you do have growing pains, it’s a process.”