Overseas teams were still vying for the chance to sign the 5-foot-9 guard who cemented a legacy as a fan-favorite over his four years playing for the Cowboys. When Page gets the message, he politely declines. As tough as it is to leave the game of basketball as a player, he’s fully accepted his new role as assistant strength and conditioning coach for his alma mater.
“We still get calls from them up in the office,” Page said in January. “Joey Biggs, our director of basketball relations talked to me today. He says they get an email or call about once a week to see if I might be interested.
“I think I want to stay here in college. Now that I’ve got to experience what it’s like here at OSU playing here for four years, college basketball fits me … I love it here at OSU. It’s has been my passion since I was young, it was my dream to play here. I would love to be here. I’d like to stick around here as long as I possibly can.”
These days, Page does much more than assist head strength and conditioning coach Jake Manzelmann. He’s head coach Travis Ford’s utility man — helping with practices, taking stats during games and giving pointers to his former teammates.
It’s a role he relishes in. A role that he hopes leads him up the ladder to his ultimate goal: a Division I coach.
On Thursday following OSU’s thrilling 74-72 victory over Baylor, I caught up with the former OSU star for a quick Q&A:
Your first trip back to the Big 12 Tournament not as a player, what’s that feel like?
Page: It’s good. It’s going good right now. I’ve adjusted to it. Just getting to be part of a team like this makes it exciting. It makes it well worth it.”
What was the locker room at halftime like? I’m guessing the team was confident heading into the second half?
Page: “They were, but they knew coming out in the second half it was going to be a different ballgame. They knew Baylor was going to come out guns-a-blazing with their backs against the wall. We knew it was going to be a battle tonight. It’s a good thing our guys stepped up late and made some plays. And we came out with the win.”
How big was Le’Bryan Nash in the second half, hitting all six of OSU’s field goals?
Page: “LB understood what type of game it was. When he was called upon to make big baskets, he came through for us.”
Has your role changed at all during this tournament week?
Page: “It’s exactly the same as it has been all year. I’ve been doing the same things I’ve been doing since day one.”
Is it a little bittersweet being one-year removed from an OSU team that has a legitimate shot at the Big 12 title?
Page: “Not really. Like I said, I’m just excited to be a part of it and being around these guys every day — just to see the special season that they’re having.”
You’ve played against Rodney McGruder a number of times in your career. What does it take to contain him?
Page: “It’s not just Rodney McGruder. That K-State team is just tough. They come every single night ready to battle. They’re just a physical team. We’re going to have to come ready to screen out, get rebounds and play defense like we’ve been trying to all season.”
UP NEXT: Kansas State
The Cowboys will face Kansas State (26-6, 15-4) at 9 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the Big 12 Championships in Kansas City / TV: Big 12 Network / RADIO: KSPI 93.7 FM