She’ll be watching Tuesday. She’ll be playing Wednesday.
Morgan Paige is coming home.
A freshman guard for the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team, Paige will make her Carver-Hawkeye Arena debut Wednesday when the Badgers meet Iowa.
“I have had this game circled since I graduated from (Marion) high school,” Paige said. “I get to play in front of family and friends and play against girls I know.
“It’s going to be a blast.”
A former all-stater who took Marion to state for the first two times in school history (2008 and 2010), Paige has endured an “up and down” rookie season.
Saddled for a while with walking pneumonia, she has played in 22 games (starting 10), averaging 3.4 points per game. She has struggled with her shooting, converting just 27 percent from the field.
“College life is an adjustment, and every day’s a new journey,” she said. “I’m asked to do some of the little things, but when the chance comes to score, I’m looked upon to be aggressive.”
Wisconsin (14-10 overall, 9-3 Big Ten) is in the thick of the conference race. The Badgers endured a seven-game losing streak before Christmas, but have put it together lately. They’re in a third place, a game behind Michigan State and a half-game behind Penn State.
Paige compares UW Coach Lisa Stone to her mother — Sherryl Gaffney-Paige, who coached her in high school.
“She’s a firecracker,” Paige said of Stone. “She pushes you to be the best you can be.”
Paige scored 1,785 points in her high school career, leading to Marion won three Wamac Conference titles. She directed the Indians to the 2008 Class 3A state volleyball title and was a finalist for the 2010 Gazette Female Athlete of the Year award.
The Badgers are scheduled to get to town Tuesday, and Morgan plans to be in the stands Tuesday night when her younger brother, Marcus, leads Linn-Mar against Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
Marcus, a junior, has committed to play at the University of North Carolina.
“He continues to amaze me,” Morgan said.
Then, Wednesday, she’ll play against acquaintances like Jade Rogers and Jaime Printy. Paige considered playing at Iowa.
“Once I came here though, my heart was set,” she said.