Teniya Page hoping to make a splash
Ever since a friend told 5-foot-7 point guard Teniya Page about scuba diving, she has been fascinated with the wonders of the sea.
"From what I've been told and what I've read, it's supposed to be beautiful," said Page, who is working on getting certified. "I'm interested in going underwater and swimming with the fish."
Perhaps next summer, Page said, she can temporarily trade her sneakers for fins. But right now, the only diving she is planning to do is the kind that results in the possession of a loose ball.
Page, a rising senior at Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights, Ill.), is in Colorado Springs, Colorado, competing for a spot on the USA U17 roster that will play in the FIBA U17 World Championship in the Czech Republic in June and July.
Page also was invited to Colorado last year, and she made it to the final 32 players before getting cut from the U16 team.
That shouldn't happen this time around, said Ralph Gesualdo, who is coaching Page this year with the Midwest Elite AAU team.
"Teniya is special," he said. "Not only is she a great basketball player, but what I like best is her understanding of the game. You show her something once, and she is teaching everyone else on the floor."
Page, who has yet to commit to a college and is ranked sixth in the nation in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the 2015 class, said the main thing she learned from her experience in Colorado last year was to not be so passive.
"I was sad at first," Page said when asked about her reaction to being cut last spring. "But I realized I had a good time there, and I learned a lot and met a lot of good people.
"This year, I'm going to be more aggressive. The way I played last year was not me. Now that I'm invited back, hopefully there will be a different outcome."
Gesualdo said Page's planned aggressiveness doesn't necessarily mean more points.
"I don't think Team USA wants someone who comes down and jacks up shots, and that's not Teniya anyway," he said. "She is the type of player they look for because she's a point guard who thinks pass first and makes everyone around her better.
"What I've told her is to be aggressive defensively and in the way she attacks the basket. There will be plenty of 2-guards there who will be looking to shoot."
Page's 2-guard the past couple of seasons at Marian Catholic was Ashton Millender, who is graduating this spring and will play for DePaul.
Together, Page and Millender formed a dynamic backcourt duo that led Marian to the Class 4A state title in 2013 and another run to the semifinals this past season. Marian finished 28-5.
For the season, Page averaged 14.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals. She also shot 72.4 percent from the foul line, 44.5 percent on field goals and 45.7 percent on 3-pointers.
Marian coach Dan Murray said Page is blessed with a multitude of skills.
"She's an excellent ball handler and distributor," he said. "She rarely forces things, makes quality decisions and has good lateral quickness."
Page was named second-team All-State by The Associated Press and first-team All-State by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
Areas to work on, according to Murray and Page, include on-ball defense. In addition, Page said she is honing her floater, and Gesualdo would like to see her continue to improve her 3-point shot.
"She shoots it extremely well," Gesualdo said. "But at the next level, because she has such a great first step and can get to the rim so easily, teams will play one or two steps off of her.
"Defensively, I put her on the other team's quickest player. There is a reason she is so highly rated. She is multidimensional with no glaring weakness."
But Page is in no hurry. She said she won't announce her six finalists until July, but she did reveal that is she only considering schools from the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC.
Page has patterned her style after two legendary Chicago point guards -- Isiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.
Both of those players represented the U.S. in international competitions, and Page would love to do that as well, starting with this week's tryout for the U17 team.
"I know she is super psyched," said Katie Barker, a 5-10 shooting guard for Midwest Elite. "She really wants this and has been working hard and preparing."
Added Gesualdo: "Based on her point guard skills, I'd be shocked if she doesn't make Team USA."