By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
When Keiton Page graduated from Oklahoma State University last year, he could have easily headed overseas and continued his basketball career — something Travis Ford said he suggested the former Cowboy great should at least give a try.
Instead, the greatest high school scorer in the state of Oklahoma out of Pawnee, decided to stay at his alma mater and join the family tradition — as a basketball coach.
Page has been working with the Cowboys’ coaching staff, following in the footsteps of his father — David Page, a longtime high school coach who has led Pawnee to several state titles — and his older brother Brady, who in his late 20s is in his second year as the head coach at Hennessey High School.
“It came down to those two decisions, and I kind of wanted to stay here and get my foot in the door,” Page said. “I was excited about this team and I wasn’t ready to leave OSU yet.”
Page is serving as an assistant strength and conditioning coach, but can be found in the coaches’ huddle during practices. And for his former coach, and now boss, Travis Ford said Page is different from some players who try to make the adjustment from player to coach.
“He’s been such an asset to us and the players, and I’ve been so impressed with how he’s really embraced this role,” Ford said. “So many former players try doing it right after going four years and usually it’s a sigh of relief, and they’ll show up at 11 o’clock. But he’s here early, stays late and does everything we ask him to do.
“He’s really trying to learn the business of being a coach, which he sees very quickly is different from being a player. Just because you played doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to be a coach. But I think he’s seeing now everything that goes into it.”
Page, who owns the national record for career 3-point shooting with 49.9 percent, has been helpful in the maturation process for a player already getting comparisons to Page — OSU freshman guard Phil Forte.
“He’s helped me a lot. In practice he’ll come over and give me advice,” Forte said. “Seeing what he did for four years here... It’s one thing for him to be a coach, but he did it and is about my height and he exceeded here.
“So I’m just trying to be a sponge and absorb everything and just learn what he did and what he did and apply it to my game.”
It has been different for Page though, having to toe the line as a coach to a group of players he called teammates last year. He’s still not used to being called Coach.
“It catches me off guard a lot when they’re yelling at me,” the Pawnee native said. “Sometimes I won’t even look because I’m used to being called KP all the time.”
While his father and brother are building the Page name in the high school ranks in the state of Oklahoma, the younger Page has his eyes set higher.
“I would like to stay here for as long as I possibly can,” Page said. “I love OSU and I wasn’t ready to leave. I’m sure in (another) five years I won’t be ready to leave, either. I love it here and I think this basketball program will continue to grow and continue to get better. I’d love to be a part of it.”