PHOTO: MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER
Greg Page was a high-school standout, leading Pointe Claire's Lindsay Place to two titles.

Making the transition
Page cegep star;
Teenager handles step to higher level


ARPON BASU, Freelance
February 2, 2005

The Montreal high-school basketball scene's hype machine is decidedly more subdued than its counterparts south of the border.

The game at the high-school level gets nary a mention in most local media outlets, and it's rare that the names of the most talented kids are known by anyone except other players and coaches.

But for the last few years, Greg Page has been an exception.

When the Dollard des Ormeaux resident began attending Lindsay Place High School five years ago, his game was so polished he jumped straight to the senior team.

The last two years, Page led Lindsay Place to consecutive Greater Montreal Athletic Association championships. With his club team, the Brookwood Apaches, Page won the Montreal Basketball League MVP the past two seasons and led Brookwood to the provincial title last year.

Page was the only high-school player in Quebec invited to the inaugural Adidas All-Canadian Game in Mississauga, Ont., last spring.

So Page's debut in the provincial CEGEP league this season was highly anticipated, especially for anyone who hadn't yet seen the one called "Man Child" and "Biz."

It got to him.

"It was a lot of hype. Sometimes it can really stress you out, because people expect a lot out of you," the 18-year-old said in the comfort of his living room, with a bookshelf full of his plaques and awards staring him in the face. "When you have a bad game, you hear about it for a while."

Page hasn't been perfect in his freshman year for the Vanier Cheetahs, but he also hasn't heard about too many bad games. Rarely does a first-year player make the impact Page has for Vanier, which lost all five starters from last year's team, yet hasn't slipped in the standings.

The Cheetahs finished the first half of the season in first place with a 7-1 record, due in large part to Page's 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

However, the 6-foot-5 forward with small-man skills couldn't care less about his personal numbers.

When asked if he tracks his stats on the league Web site, Page asked: "Are they on the Internet?"

Page's strong frame allowed him to compete at the CEGEP level right away, but there's still a physical adjustment for a player who used to be able to impose his will.

"Players are just as big as me, just as strong as me and just as fast as me, so I don't have an advantage there anymore," he said. "It means I have to play smarter."

Vanier coach Andrew Hertzog says he expects Page to stay at Vanier until the end of next season before he bolts for an NCAA school, some of which already began writing Page letters last year. But he isn't taking anything for granted.

"Nothing's for sure yet," Page said. "I have to keep working hard and then weigh my options."

The Amateur Athlete of the Week is featured Wednesdays on Global News at 6 p.m. and also on montrealgazette.com.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005