MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Senior night is on the horizon for three West Virginia University basketball players. Jaysean Paige, Jonathan Holton and Richard Romeo III will all play in their final home game as a Mountaineer, and like every senior night, it is sure to be an emotional one.
Romeo has spent his entire college career at WVU. While he doesn’t get much playing time, he still gives 100 percent effort all the time.
Holton has worn the old gold and blue for three years now. He spent two seasons playing for Rhode Island before landing at Palm Beach State Community College. Then he found the place he belonged.
Paige has spent the shortest amount of time in Morgantown. He transferred in from Moberly Area Community College after Eron Harris left for Michigan State.
Like Holton, Paige’s journey was a long one. He went to College of Southern Idaho, Moberly Area Community College, Missouri and Southern Mississippi University before the road led him to his final destination.
But no matter how long each one has been a Mountaineer, their time representing the state of West Virginia has been special.
“Jon has been here three, he redshirted a year, and Jaysean two and they’ve been terrific,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “And Richard Romeo has been unbelievable. He does whatever you ask him to do in practice. He goes through all the weight training stuff. He’s been here a summer and he’s been great.”
Even though Paige has been at WVU the shortest time, being able to represent the university is something that means a lot to him. It has helped him grow from a boy to a man.
“It meant a lot,” Paige said. “I’ve learned a lot since coming here, as you can tell from last year to this year. Growing up on and off the court. Just ties up a lot of things about life in general. Just learned a lot coming here.”
Just in the span of one season it is apparent how the 6-foot-2, 210-pound guard’s approach to things has changed.
“I’ve learned a lot,” Paige said. “Off the court I have matured a lot. Just balling on the court, taking everything a lot more seriously both on and off the court. Just trying to compete.”
Wednesday’s game hasn’t really hit the Jamestown, NY native yet, but when it does, it is sure to be an emotional one.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much yet but I think it’s going to mean a lot,” Paige said. “The last time I’m here, last time to see what the fans are like. Just being out on the court in general for competing purposes. My family is going to be here so it’s going to be a difficult moment.”
Holton will also have family members in attendance when the Mountaineers take on Texas Tech. But the Miami, Fla. native is already a little emotional thinking about his final game.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t want it to be over already,” Holton said. “I had a great ride. I had so much fun here. Since I like being here, I had so much success. I played for an awesome, great coach all the time. And the strength coach, I have like 16 coaches and my teammates. It was all wonderful. They were all good to me. I am kind of sad it’s almost over, but we still got a lot more games to go.
Being a Mountaineer is something that Holton truly cherishes.
“It’s great. I swear to god and the great thing is, they (coaches) never told me this, they treat you like an NBA team here because there is no pro team here. Everywhere I go is mad love and support.
“ And the fans are great to you too. Even when I was going through that little four game. They still gave me confidence. They still showed me love. I was just happy to be like apart of something so special.”
WVU fans return the same sentiment. These three athletes played a role in the Mountaineers’ success over the last two seasons.
For the first time in several years, Holton Paige and Romeo helped WVU reach heights that once seemed so far away.
While Wednesday’s game will be bittersweet for coaches, fans and players, everyone is excited to see what the future holds both this season and down the road for three special young men.
“It’s like every other one, you hate to see them go,” Huggins said. “But at the same time you’re excited about their opportunities when they leave here.”