MORGANTOWN, W.Va.– Everyone on Bob Huggins’ team has a role. For Jaysean Paige, that role is coming off the bench and putting up the points.
The senior guard is a big reason why the Mountaineers are 14-1 this season. He is averaging 12.6 points per game.
It was Paige’s 25-point performance that helped the Mountaineers knock off Kansas State in double overtime in the conference opener. The following game he came off the bench and scored 20 in a come-from-behind win against TCU.
While some athletes may get upset about not starting with the numbers like Paige is putting up, he embraces his role.
“I am confident,” he said. “I am doing my best. That was my goal, just to come in and be an impact on the team. So this year with that being my role, I am happy with that.”
In fact, Paige thinks coming off the bench can be beneficial.
“It’s good sometimes,” he said. “You get to evaluate everybody on the floor. You get to get a view of the game before you get to go in. You get to see what’s going on.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound guard isn’t quite use to playing a role like he is with WVU, but it is definitely working for the Mountaineers. In fact, the combination of Paige and Tarik Phillip are a huge threat for opponents.
“It’s like a one-two punch when we come into the game,” Paige said. “We talk to each other, point out some things when we go out on the floor – who can we go at? What is the weakness in the defense or the offense? We just go out there and play.”
“I’ve always had guys that were in it for the team, and those two guys without question are in it for the team,” Huggins said. “They understand that they can make a bigger impact coming off the bench and they’ve kind of started to relish that role.
“They know they are going to play; those two guys have probably played more minutes than anybody else. It’s not a matter of running out on the carpet, but who finishes the game.”
Paige and Phillip are doing exactly that, relishing in that role. With those two coming off the bench, they are combining for 20.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 64 assists and 42 steals.
When Paige started for an injured Daxter Miles Jr. against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Huggins noticed the difference.
“He didn’t shoot as well,” he said. “I don’t know if he was as active. I think he feels more comfortable coming off the bench. I think he is a lot more comfortable. That other group needs him. Tarik got into foul trouble, and he is the other guy in that group that has been scoring.”
Paige is developing into one of the Mountaineers’ best players and one of the country’s top bench players. He is the third leading scorer at WVU behind Devin Williams and Jevon Carter. He is also the team’s top three-point shooter, hitting 39.7 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
“I try and get in the gym every day and work on attacking and just being more versatile,” he said.
Last season the Jamestown, New York native averaged 5.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 34 games. He credits hard work for his success.
“I worked hard in the off season for this,” Paige said. “I have always been working for this point and now my time is here so I’m just ready to play.”