WAMEGO, KS -- The average high school in American is lucky to have one division one prospect every ten years. Wamego, Kansas, is no different. It is a small Midwest prairie town with a population of 4,300 of which 400 attend Wamego High School. The Red Raiders would not be described as a girls’ basketball ‘hot bed.’
But things are warming up in Wamego thanks to sisters Kaylee and Lanie Page who also happen to be the daughers of Wamego head girls’ basketball coach Jim Page. Older sister Kaylee, currently ranked No. 48 in the 2014 Full Court Fresh 50, is a 6-2 junior point guard averaging 20 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals a game. Younger sister Lanie is a 6-2 sophomore guard, and is also putting up impressive numbers averaging 15.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 2.6 assists and 4 steals per game. The Page "trio" has put together a 15-1 record this season, currently the best among 4A schools, and appear to be a contender for a state title.
Kaylee and Lanie are both BCS level prospects and are currently getting a lot of attention from Big 10, Big 12 and Pac 12 schools. Full Court recently had a chance to sit down individually with the trio to discuss the path to their current success and their future.
First with coach/father Jim Page [JP]…
Jim Page is in his 12 year as a head coach, he grew up in Spring Hill, Kansas, about 25 miles from Kansas City. He played basketball in high school and at Johnson County Community College for one year and played his second year at Pittsburg (KS) State. After a car accident at the start of his junior year ended his playing career, he finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas.
He has been teaching special education at Wamego High School for 21 years and began coaching 12 years ago. (12 years split between Wamego and nearby Wabaunsee High School, the most recent three back at Wamego).
Full Court: When did your daughters become interested in the game?
Jim Page: My wife played basketball at Emporia State (D-II school in Emoria, KS) so it has been kind of a family interest, bringing kids to practice. Like a lot of little kids, they would try to mimic the drills that the players were doing. I think all of them [he also has a son who is a senior at Wamego] went to a basketball camp when they were four years old.
FC: When did you see that your two daughters may be something more than just average at the game?
JP: I don’t know if I even think about that now. Someone told my daughters [referring first to Kaylee] that they were going to be division one players when they were in sixth grade. I just don’t know how you do that. Each year we try to add something [to each girls game]. At first Kaylee was a three-point shooter, then as a sophomore she added taking the ball to the basket. This year she has been working on her mid-range game because people were guarding both of those things. I’m just interested in getting them better as players. I know some kids commit [verbally to a college] in seventh or eighth grade. I just think that’s silly.
FC: Is it hard to separate being a coach and a parent?
JP: We have been doing it for so long because I have coached the kids. It is just a natural separation. In the huddle they call me dad. Sometimes I over-coach in a game and want to change something. One of them will say “dad, what we are doing is working fine and why don’t we just stay with that.”
FC: Is it hard to watch your daughters play club ball in the summer with someone else coaching them?
JP: It is kind of fun because I just can sit back and watch them. When I am coaching them in high school, I have ten other kids and the team concept thing and I really have to integrate everybody and see what we are doing. In the summer, I can sit back and look at all the hard work that they put in and really kind of enjoy it.
FC: Could you briefly describe each of your daughters’ games starting with Kaylee?
JP: Kaylee is a very cerebral player. We were watching television when she was about in seventh grade. I said they were running a pick and roll. She thought they slipped the screen and sure enough when they came back from commercial they said that. She has point guard skills as she has always played point guard [at Wamego]. She would rather pass it than shoot it. She is a good post up player. She can play the one through five spot. She has a very complete game.
FC: In college, what position do you see her playing?
JP: A two or a three. She could play some four stuff too but she works very well on the perimeter as her face-up game is very good.
Lanie has developed a little bit different game. Even though she is only one year behind Kaylee, she actually skipped eighth grade [Lanie is just fourteen years old while Kaylee is sixteen.]. She came to me and asked to skip eighth grade. At first I was very much against it. I looked at her test scores, state standards and she was just done socially, emotionally [with middle school].
She has had to develop a different game playing up with her older sister. Lanie has had to become more of a slasher/driver protecting the ball. She developed more of a street game in order to get her shot off against Kaylee [and 6-6 senior brother James]. I have to give her lots of credit as she has really worked on her jump shot and raising her shot [release point] up. She can now rise up over her older brother.
FC: What advice would you like to give other parents about developing their daughters as players given the success you have been having?
JP: You have to keep a perspective on it. You have to keep them around other good kids. You have to keep them around good coaches. Keep it in perspective. Keep it fun [referring to summer basketball]. Keep it fundamentally based. We had tee shirts made up when the kids were little-- stressing the point of keeping it fun and fundamental. There is always going to be someone more athletic than you. [But] if there is somebody more fundamentally sound than you, that is probably your own fault.
Next with Kaylee Page [KP]…
FC: How did you get interested in basketball given that your father coached the sport and your mother played college basketball?
KP: It was something I was always around. I always wanted to practice and play with the girls. It is something I liked from the very beginning.
FC: What made you start to take the game seriously?
KP: I always took my sports seriously when I was younger. I wanted to be the best I could be. It has always been that way. I loved playing it and I have always wanted to be the best.
FC: So you think you are competitive?
KP: Yes, on certain things I really am competitive whether it comes from school or sports. It can be a bad habit sometimes.
FC: Did you start out as a ‘tall player” when young?
KP: Yes, both of my parents are pretty tall. I grew up pretty fast too.
FC: Have you always played on the perimeter? That’s kind of unusual.
KP: Actually, I have. I started out on the perimeter. My post game has gradually come along. I feel more comfortable playing on the perimeter. I have more experience playing there than in the post.
FC: What do you do best on the court?
KP: I feel one of my strong points is just being a leader and making sure everyone knows what’s going on, knows what offense and what defense we are in. And making sure if someone is having a rough night [shooting], making sure they know you can affect the game in more than one way. And making sure everyone is engaged in the game.
FC: Where do you think your game still needs the most work?
KP: Probably my defense and rebounding; going up strong definitely needs a lot of work.
FC: Who do you play for during the club ball season?
KP: I [as does sister Lanie] play for the Mo-Kan Eclipse out of Kansas City.
FC: Is it hard to separate your father as coach from parent?
KP: Sometimes it is. Sometimes you have a rough day at practice and you come home and sometimes you still get it. We have gotten really good at separating it and knowing where to draw the line.
FC: Compare club ball and high school ball.
KP: I have been playing club ball for only two or three years. Club ball is a lot more physical and it is a lot faster pace. It is a lot more running your fast break rather than setting up into your offense. It is a lot faster.
FC: Are you competitive with your sister?
KP: Yes, I am. I think it is a good thing for both of us because in practice I push her and try to toughen her up so in the game it won’t seem that bad.
FC: Any list of colleges you are considering?
KP: I have been kind of looking around. I have not really narrowed it. I’m keeping my options open.
FC: Who is pursuing you the most?
KP: I got a lot of interest from different colleges, Facebook, emails and mail too.
FC: What interest do you have career-wise off the court?
KP: I have no idea. It changes every week. I wanted to be a math teacher and then I wanted to be an orthodontist and then I wanted to be a physical therapist and counselor. It changes every week.
FC: How do you do in school?
KP: I have become a pretty good student. I love school. Sometimes it’s rough but I really like listening.
FC: What’s your GPA?
KP: I have over a 4.0 [out of 4.0].
Finally with Lanie Page [LP] …
FC: As the younger sister, you got to watch Kaylee play first. When did you decide you wanted to get involved with the game? Sometimes people run the other way and want to do something different.
LP: My dad coached high school and I have always been around it. When I was little, I played on Kaylee’s teams. I wasn’t on her team even though she played before me. I always played with her and watched her play. I wanted to play how she played and copy some of the moves she made. It has really been a blessing having her as an example of what I want to be.
FC: What made you start to take the game seriously?
LP: I have always taken the game seriously. We are both really competitive. We watched college ball and have seen how much fun they have on the court. Since I was little I thought I want to be out there and be as excited as they are in making big plays with the crowd screaming [in college]?
FC: So you want a big time environment?
LP: Yes, I want it to be loud with fans screaming everywhere.
FC: Your father discussed the double promotion that allowed you do skip eighth grade. [Lanie had to pass a series of test to merit skipping eighth grade.] How did that work out for you? [Lanie is now a sophomore.]
LP: Yes, I am definitely satisfied [with the decision]. Looking at the grade where I am now, that is where I feel I should be and I have a lot of friends and I really fit in there more than I fit in with the other [lower] grade that I was in.
FC: What do you do best on the court?
LP: I think my jump shot is really coming along. I worked on that all summer but I think I’m really good at driving and dishing, and driving and slicing through and going up for the layup.
FC: Where in your game do you think you need the most work?
LP: Definitely defense, definitely! I just need to work on bending my knees; not staying back and not letting people drive by me. That’s my really big problem.
FC: How do you see the difference between club ball and high school ball?
LP: I kind of agree with Kaylee. Club ball is a lot more physical and fast paced. There is a lot more running. High school is kind of slow, set up. You can run fast breaks but you run a lot more plays in high school than you do in club.
FC: What did you learn the most about the game from your sister?
LP: Pretty much everything. Since I was little she has worked with me, taught me stuff that she learned. After practice when she was playing on different teams she would show me what they worked on (different moves that they learned).
FC: What is the best thing about playing with your sister?
LP: We read each other really, really well on the court. I can just tell when she is going to go back door.
FC: The toughest thing?
LP: When we are playing against each other it is really competitive. It gets pretty rough.
FC: Can you turn it on and off be sisters again?
LP: After practice we help each other shoot. We may still be mad at each other but once we get in the locker room and get talking, we are totally fine.
FC: I talked with a set of twins who said they are a ‘package’? Do you see yourself playing with your sister in college?
LP: It is kind of unclear. Yes, I want to play with her but I want to let her live her dreams and kind of go on my own if that’s what I need to do.
FC: Do you have a college list?
LP: Stanford is a school I would be interested in. They are really good at basketball and at academics. They are really good at all sports. All the athletes that go there support each other.
FC: How do you stand GPA-wise?
LP: I’m at a 4.0 [out of 4.0] I think.
FC: Any colleges really pursuing you separately from your sister?
LP: I have gotten a couple of letters but nobody can really contact me yet.
FC: You may be a bit young to ask but do you have any career goals away from the basketball court?
LP: I kind of want to be a physical therapist or an athletic trainer. Even if I get hurt and even if I can’t play basketball, I can still be around the sport that I love and help out.
FC: Thanks you all for your time!