The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

May 21, 2014

Huggins signs JUCO guard

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins, challenged by the unexpected transfers of guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, completed remaking his backcourt when he signed two-way guard Jaysean Paige.

Paige, who played last year at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri, joins guards Jevon Carter of Privoso High in Maywood, Illinois; Daxter Miles of Dunbar High in Baltimore and Tarik Phillip of Independence Community College in Kentucky in this year’s recruiting class.

They will play alongside returning guards Juwan Staten, a leading candidate for the Big 12 Player of the Year Award last year and expected to do the same this season, and Gary Browne in the backcourt.

“Jaysean is a big key for us to continue to increase our athleticism in the backcourt,” Huggins said in the school’s release. “He is capable of playing the one and the two guard positions. He gives us another player to put pressure on the rim and another perimeter option with his 44 percent shooting from 3-point range at Moberly. Jaysean gives us another guy who is very adept to guarding the ball, which should ultimately help us to apply pressure and create offense from our defense.”

Huggins has looked to improve the ball-handling and defense from his off guards from last season.

Paige, listed at 6-2 and 195 pounds, averaged 21.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game last season at Moberly.

In the 2014 final National Junior College Athletic Association statistics, Paige ranked 13th in scoring on the way to being named to the NJCAA Region 16 First Team. Paige shot 50.2 percent from the field, 44.6 from 3-point range and 73.8 percent from the free throw line. He reached double figures in every game and had 30 or more points on five occasions. Paige had a season-best 34 points against ABCD Prep.

Huggins, with the added guards, would seem to be making up for the 28 points a game he lost with Harris and Henderson, while added a pair of front court players forced to sit out last season in Jonathon Holton and Elijah Macon, both athletic players capable of rebounding and helping the defense.

Landing Paige was a fortunate stroke of luck for Huggins. He had committed to Southern Mississippi in January, a team that last season went 29-7 while making the NIT field, beating Toledo at home and Missouri on the road before losing at Minnesota.

After signing with the Golden Eagles, head coach Donnie Tyndall left for Tennessee.

Paige asked for, and was granted, his release, opening the recruiting of him again.

Paige’s journey to WVU was an interesting one.

He began his high school career in his hometown of Jamestown, New York, where he earned third team all-state honors for New York in 2011 and Western New York Player of the Year honors in leading his team to a state runner-up finish. As a junior, Paige averaged 27 points and eight rebounds.

He moved on to Perry County Central in Hazard, Kentucky, for his senior year, but that proved to be a battle, originally being ruled ineligible before winning an appeal. At Perry Central he averaged 21 points and 6.7 rebounds a game.

Paige began his collegiate career at the College of Southern Idaho, where he averaged 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.9 assists per game. He played in 30 games and shot 45.1 percent (158-of-350) from the field, 36.8 percent (43-of-117) from 3-point range and 66.2 percent (49-of-74) from the free throw line. Paige reached double figures 23 times, including 20 or more points five times. He had a season-best 25 points against Salt Lake Community College.

Paige has two seasons of eligibility left.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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