After taking the fall semester off from basketball, sophomore center Austin Page leaped back onto the court swiftly bringing hot shooting and a fiery spirit. His career-high performance of 28 points on Jan. 13 marked a remarkable come-back only two weeks after his return, and ever since he’s consistently led the team in scoring.
With multiple accomplishments under Page’s name, including being named UTD Athlete of the Week twice, ASC player of the week and being one of only five players selected for the D3 hoops national team of the week in the entire country, Page has kept his strive and doesn’t plan to stop now. This season, Page made 16 assists, 13 blocks and six steals at the time of publication. Page said he hopes to continue improving and playing well for the team to secure an ASC championship win.
“The first semester was really tough for me because I had a bunch of personal issues I needed to attend to, but I tried to stay as active as I could,” Page said. “I couldn’t practice with the players, but I’d obviously watched every single practice and it was honestly a lot of determination to just work out alone and in my own time outside of the practice times to really improve my skill set in basketball.”
Page took a break from playing basketball at the start of the season to improve his mental health and focus on mechanical engineering academics. After getting back on track with the basketball team, Page played his first game on Dec. 29 in California. From there, Page started to become a primary scorer on the team along with another teammate, senior Donovan Souter. Page said that he has never been a leading scorer – usually being the third or fourth top scorer – but that it has been a great feeling for him to help the team through playing how he knows best.
“It is kind of a rush of energy just knowing that it’s never happened before,” Page said. “It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re helping out the team consistently every week with scoring and everything.”
Page was recruited by head men’s basketball coach Jared Fleming. Fleming said Page had a great first year where he set the school record field goal percentage and knew from first sight that he wanted to recruit Page.
“He can do everything well, he’s talented, he can score, he plays hard, he defends, he rebounds and he just checked all the boxes for us that we wanted [during the recruitment process],” Fleming said. “So, we knew pretty quickly that he was a guy that was going to be on our radar, and a guy that we were going to pursue pretty heavily.”
Averaging 18.1 points every game, Page’s best game yet was on Jan. 13 with a career high of 28 points. Thanks to Page’s efforts, the men’s basketball team won against LeTourneau with the best margin of the season, the final score being 103-81.
“I’d say going into the game, scoring the first six points kind of gave me a rush of energy and just kind of wanted me to excel to even try even harder and harder, just scoring more points and helping the team out,” Page said. “I felt like I needed to step in even more and get the team going as we went on a big run in the half and ended up scoring 20 points in the first half which was a huge accomplishment for me especially since it is almost rare to do so.”
After coming back from his break, Page said that he was able to gain more confidence, which he said helps him in his games. Although being a freshman on a college basketball team can be stressful, Page said that he has learned how to calm his emotions and embrace who he is as a person, which he said has really helped his confidence while playing games.
Page has been on the basketball team since freshman year, and Fleming said that there was a huge improvement in Page from freshman to sophomore year. Fleming said that Page’s determination and hard work allows him to improve his skill set for the basketball team and that he is on pace to break the record for field goal percentage again this year.
“When Austin got to us as a freshman, he was talented, but he didn’t really know what it took to kind of play at this level and it took him a little while to figure some of that out,” Fleming said. “He probably made the biggest jump from freshman to sophomore year in how much he improved. He really started clicking new things [in the] middle of freshman year, I think now he really understands a much higher level of work that’s required to perform at the college level so he’s a very hard worker, he works on all of his skills, he works on his free throws every single day, he’s a hard worker, he’s a grinder, he’s a really competitive kid and it’s been a big boost for us.”
Fleming said Page has grown with the team and that if Page keeps playing the way he is, the team will be set for the ASC championships.
“Austin is a wonderful kid,” Fleming said. “He’s a huge personality, he’s a funny kid, the guys love him, he can be a little bit of a goofball at times but he’s very lovable. He’s a great kid, a great person, and we’re excited that he’s a part of our program.”