STILLWATER, Okla. — As Texas Tech basketball coaches prepared the last few days to face Oklahoma State, they were probably glad not to have to orchestrate a scheme to stop Keiton Page.
As the Cowboys’ senior point guard last season, Page averaged 18 points in three wins against the Red Raiders, including a 23-point performance in the Big 12 opener in Stillwater.
Even though Page’s playing days in orange and black are over, he could still have at least a small hand in Saturday’s contest, which tips off at 1 p.m. inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. That’s because Page, who excelled during his Cowboys career despite standing just 5-foot-9, is now serving as a graduate assistant coach on the Oklahoma State sideline.
“I really thought about playing overseas early on in my senior year,” Page said, “but the more our season went on, the more I talked to coach (Travis) Ford about it. He extended an opportunity for me to stay. I talked to my family and I kind of just felt this is where I was at. I decided I’d rather start here with what I wanted to do with my career.”
Page wants his career to one day be highlighted by a college head coaching job, but he isn’t thinking that far off in the distance right now. Not with all that goes into his duties as a graduate assistant. It's a workload he said he didn't have a full appreciation of as a player.
“You just see so much more," he said. "As a player you think you spend a lot of time in the gym in practices, individual work and extra time working on your game. As a coach it’s unbelievable how much time you spend up in the office watching film breaking everything down and seeing all the aspects of the game.”
Page is in the unique position of being able to watch and help coach the player who replaced him at the point-guard position: freshman Marcus Smart. Page, though, said Smart, who leads the Cowboys in a number of statistical categories and is widely regarded as one of the top freshmen in the country, is often the one providing tutelage to teammates.
“He’s unbelievable,” Page said. “From the second he stepped on campus he just had unbelievable leadership ability. Just his will to win, he plays extremely hard. He’ll do anything to win. He doesn’t care about how many points he scores or anything like that. He’s out there for one reason, and that’s to win a basketball game. The main thing about Marcus that makes him so good is that he just makes everyone around him better.”
Page conceded that the itch to get back on the court has struck him this season, especially given that plenty of the players he is now coaching were his teammates a year ago. Mostly, though, he’s glad to be starting his coaching career in the same town that housed some of his greatest memories about the game.
“I miss it,” Page said. “It’s tough going from playing last year and then being on the bench and not playing the next year. Like I said, I’m excited and the sky is the limit for this team.”
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