Bryant basketball sophomore Charles Pride returns to Syracuse for a homecoming in the Carrier Dome.
Sour Patch Chuck. Nobody is quite sure how the nickname came to be. It might’ve been given to him by friends. It might’ve been given to him by faculty members. Or, he might’ve just given the nickname to himself. All we know for sure is that Bryant basketball’s Charles Pride earned the moniker during his junior year of high school.
Playing at Liverpool High School just outside of Syracuse, Pride would consume an alarming amount of Sour Patch Kids candy often during inconvenient and unconventional times.
“At Liverpool they would buy the pound bags of Sour Patch and put them on the scorer’s table,” Says Pride, whose Bryant Bulldogs take on Syracuse tonight.
“The other teams just ended up coming over eating the candy. The fans loved it,” Begins Liverpool basketball head coach Ryan Blackwell, who also starred at Syracuse. “The kids would check in, check out of the game, warmups and eat Sour Patch kids. They loved them.”
“Throughout the game I would just go, (during) free throws, I’d be at halfcourt, go and grab a handful,” Pride continued. “Quick energy burst, you know, keep me feeling good.”
It wasn’t uncommon for Pride to be seen eating candy during player introductions. After he was introduced, he’d go shake the opposing head coach’s hand and grab a handful of colorful succulents on the way back to the bench.
So we know how the name came to be, but who gave Pride his nickname?
“I don’t know how it started,” Blackwell says of Pride’s sobriquet.
“Charles is very interesting. I think he just named himself,” Liverpool assistant coach Shawn Muller said. “I think he just named himself Sour Patch Chuck.”
Pride suggests otherwise, “A few of my friends just gave me that nickname because I was eating them at an excessive rate.”
Either way, the name has come as a sort of identity for Pride. Perhaps equally deserving of credit for his nickname are two faculty members who started this whole thing.
Two of the Liverpool scorekeepers, Bernie and Jonesie, would buy the candy in industrial size bags and put them out on the scorer’s table for all members of the basketball team. At first it started out as small bags of Sour Patch Kids on buses to away games until Pride prodded about the candy more frequently.
“Sour Patch Kids are my favorite candy. I eat those every day. Any flavor, every day. Before games, during games, halftime. I will always have a pack of Sour Patch Kids somewhere in my belongings,” Pride chuckled.
“He’s even got it tatted on his leg: Sour,” Says Muller.
Blackwell describes Pride as quirky and someone that everyone loves to be around. He says he has a will to win, that he’s a great teammate due to his unselfishness. He notes his work ethic and intensity that Pride plays with, along with his defense and will to do the little things.
“The best part about him was he was a great a teammate. He was just great at school, he fit in with everyone. The faculty loved him, loved being around him,” Blackwell says.
Pride returns to central New York with his Bryant basketball team to take on Syracuse today in what will be a homecoming of sorts inside the Carrier Dome. He’ll do so alongside his teammate Luke Sutherland, who also played locally at West Genesee.
There will be no family or friends in attendance, but it’s a chance for Pride to return home and play against competition he’s assuredly familiar with. He played AAU with Buddy Boeheim in middle school and played against Joe Girard. He says he knows Quincy Guerrier well and competed against him in the Adidas Gauntlet. As a former New York Jayhawks player, Pride played with Kadary Richmond for a brief time and also played against him (we’ll revisit this shortly).
“With Luke and against Buddy, there’s a lot of guys he’s known,” Blackwell said. “There’s no fans in the stands but people will be watching. I think he’s ready to play, he’s excited.”
Not to mention, today’s game against SU won’t be the first time he’s played inside the Dome. In his two seasons at Liverpool, Pride led the Warriors to back-to-back sectional titles in 2017 and 2018. The latter occurred on none other than Jim Boeheim Court, a 67-63 victory over Nottingham in the Class AA final.
This will be the first time Pride has played inside the Dome since he won sectionals in what turned out to be a special senior season. With Pride leading the charge alongside Nas Johnson (currently with Central Connecticut Football), Liverpool went 26-0 en route to a state championship, the first in program history.
“The kid’s will to win is second to none,” Muller says of Pride. “People don’t really understand all the work he puts in behind the scenes. We used to be in the gym, he’d be on the gun for hours after practice.”
The Warriors finished the season 26-1 after losing its last game to Kadary Richmond’s South Shore squad in the Federation Tournament. Despite the loss, it went down as the best season in Liverpool basketball history.
Pride credits his coaching staff and acknowledges it was easy to listen to Blackwell, who has spent time learning the game from coaches like Boeheim, Lou Henson, Nick Nurse and Honoo Hamaguchi, who Blackwell describes as a legend in Japanese basketball circles.
“Every time I look back honestly I feel blessed that the year before I made the switch over to Liverpool,” Pride said. “The staff and the community just welcomed me with open arms and I’m really appreciative of that. … I was blessed to have the coaches that we had. The coaches we had instilled hard work in our team. A lot of times we were working hard without even knowing it. That team just had a fight that I’ve never had on any other previous team before.”
Since his time at Liverpool, Pride completed one year of prep at Putnam Science Academy before enrolling at Bryant as a freshman in 2019-20. He had a solid freshman campaign, averaging 8.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors four times. His 22 points against Rutgers were the most ever by a Bryant freshman against a Power Five opponent. Still, he sums this all up to a learning experience in his first year.
When the 2019-20 basketball season ended, Pride worked heavily on his ball-handling for hours at a time. He went out and bought a hoop so he could practice outside, working on his craft if he couldn’t get access to a gym due to COVID.
This past summer, Pride stayed with his godmother in Alexandria, Virginia, and trained with former Maryland players Melo Trimble and Anthony Cowan. He worked with other ACC guys such as incoming Duke freshman Jeremy Roach and Miami’s Earl Timberlake.
He still keeps in close contact with Blackwell and asks for his advice. His former head coach will give him pointers.
“I’ll watch his games and he’ll ask me how he played and what I’m seeing. He wants to get better,“ Says Blackwell.
“Black, I need to get to the next level. I want to be a pro,” Pride says to his former coach.
While there might not be Sour Patch Kids sitting at the scorer’s table today, Pride will still have some antics in store, which just might link him to the Karate Kid. This summer he started shouting “Hiya!” in pickup games after taking jumpers he thought would find the bottom of the net. If you imagined that as a karate chop, it’s exactly what you think.
“Charles is always saying some interesting catchphrase. The hiya is really more recent,” Muller divulged. “You’re never surprised what he says because it’s Charles. When he hits you with the hiya after he hits a shot it kind of takes you aback for a second. Then you turn around and realize it’s Charles. He just came up with something new.”
So, how did this one start?
“Hiya started from a guy in Syracuse, his name is John John. He’s a good friend of mine,” Pride said. “Every time he would take a jumpshot and he knew the ball was going in he would scream, ‘Hiya!’ So we started the movement here at Bryant. Now when everyone takes a shot and they know it’s going in they scream out ‘HIYA!’
“That’s gonna come out in games. Definitely,” Pride said.
Antics aside, Pride looks forward to the game that’s so familiar to him in an intimate environment. No family or friends will be able to watch him in person, but it still hits home.
“I think it means something special to him being home. It’s really unfortunate with no fans obviously. It would mean a lot more if there were fans there and he could have his family and his friends there watching,” Muller said. “But he knows (Jim) Boeheim. … He used to play with Buddy, so Boeheim is familiar with him. So it means a lot coming back and playing in the Dome and hopefully when this is all over he’ll get another opportunity to come back and play with fans.”
“Syracuse was the team I grew up watching. Syracuse is my hometown. Every memory I’ve ever had besides the past 2-3 years has been in Syracuse, in my hometown. I’m very excited to get out there, get out on the floor. Unfortunately we can’t have our friends and family but I’m sure they’ll be watching,” Pride finished.
They’ll be watching. And while some might be rooting for a Syracuse win, they’ll still be hoping the hometown kid gives the Orange something sour.