Leonardo Villalobos wrote an interesting piece in today's Daily Bruin about volleyball player Robart Page.
I won't be able to do Villalobos' piece justice here, so go read it.
Here is the story in a nutshell:
Outside hitter Robart Page was once the number-one volleyball recruit in the nation. He comes from Rochester, New York and is a seven-footer. He played high school basketball until his senior year, when he stopped to focus on volleyball.
Things didn't go exactly as planned for Page under now-retired head coach Al Scates. The article linked above has all the details, along with a very interesting way in which Scates organized his practices and decided on his line-ups. It's a method I've never heard of before, in any sport. As noted, Page wasn't thriving and wasn't playing much at all.
Enter Ben Howland.
Howland actually spoke to Page about switching to basketball. He'd seen him play in AAU ball and thought he could help the basketball team. Page was intrigued. There was actually a time when Page was practicing in the gym when Howland came in with Joshua Smith for a work out and Howland asked Page to defend Smith and, from what I can tell from the story, Page held his own.
Things got a bit complicated from there. Page actually began exploring the possibility of switching over from volleyball to basketball, but internal school politics cooled the idea.
It's all worked out. Scates retired and was replaced by John Speraw. Speraw wanted to coach Page and Page gave volleyball another chance. Writes Villalobos:
By the end of his junior year Page established himself as one of the best players on the team, and the growth didn’t stop there. Page kept his momentum on the court going into his senior year; he is currently leading the team in kills and is in contention for AVCA National Player of the Year.
So, it all worked out. But it's interesting to consider how the basketball team would have been different with an athletic, seven-foot center. Would Page have made a difference? I don't know. But it's possible he could have helped a bit, at least on the defensive end where the team has lacked a rim protector.
It is nice that things ended up working out for Page and that he's thriving in a sport where he was once the nation's top recruit.