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Archive for Friday, May 1, 1998

S FOOTBALL TEAM, AND HE MIGHT WALK ON IN BASKETBALLTOO.

May 1, 1998

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A lanky two-sport Florida prep has verbally committed to Kansas University's football team, and he just might give basketball a go, too.

Anton Paige, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound wide receiver from Wellington (Fla.) High, plans to attend KU next fall.

``As far as I know, it's a done deal,'' Wellington basketball coach Jay McCormick said. ``He's sold on KU. He can't sign, and I guess it's possible others could come in and offer. But he's committed to KU.''

Paige played just one season of football. As a senior, he had 29 catches for a Palm Beach County-best 587 yards with five touchdowns. He was an all-area first-teamer and a third-team all-stater in Class 6A.

McCormick said Paige was a late qualifier and that he received his qualifying standardized test score after the conclusion of the football letter-of-intent signing period.

Paige was even more decorated in basketball. He was named the Palm Beach Post's player of the year as a senior. He was an all-area pick and an honorable mention all-stater.

``Down here, unfortunately, basketball and football overlap a lot,'' McCormick said. ``It's a big concern when a football player plays basketball. He transferred into our school two years ago and never played varsity basketball or football at his old school. His junior year, he was our MVP. He said, `Coach, I'd like to play football.' He always told me he's better in football than basketball, and I believed him. I told him I didn't want him to be 40 years old and say I was the guy who held him back.''

A guard-forward in basketball, Paige averaged a team-best 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists a game. Paige helped his football team to an 8-2 regular-season record and the school's first district championship. Then Paige led the basketball team to a 26-7 season and Elite Eight appearance in the state tourney.

``For us he was a warrior,'' McCormick said. ``He was just a tremendous athlete. He got Division One offers in basketball. He had opportunities. He hates to lose. He's going to do whatever it takes to win.''

He also might consider walking on to the KU basketball team.

``He'd like to,'' McCormick said. ``I know he's spoken to an assistant (basketball) coach. My main concern is that he keeps his academics straight. It's extremely tough to play one college sport and keep the grades straight, let alone two sports. And Kansas is in the upper echelon in basketball. He's a 6-5 guard. He's a proven winner and he's shown me a lot.''

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is ahartsock@ljworld.com.

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