The former Stoughton High player was a three-year starter at point guard for the University of Maine, then transferred to the University of Oklahoma as a graduate student this year. Calixte had 15 points in his debut with the Sooners on Friday night.
He was the starting point guard for three years at the University of Maine, a bottom tier Division 1 college basketball program.
Aaron Calixte of Stoughton scored 1,125 points for the Black Bears in a 97-game career that was interrupted by a foot injury, costing him the 2016-17 season.
So with one year of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical red-shirt for his junior season, Calixte had an opportunity to play a final season following his graduation as a business management major last spring.
But rather than return to Maine, Calixte decided to look elsewhere and found himself being recruited by major and mid-major programs around the country.
There was an opening for a point guard at the University of Oklahoma, where the Sooners lost Trae Young, the No. 5 pick in last June’s NBA Draft who led the nation with 27.4 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman.
And Oklahoma is where Calixte is spending his last collegiate season as a graduate student, playing in the Big 12 Conference after being with Maine in the America East Conference since 2014.
He is a long way from Stoughton, the place where Calixte played three seasons of basketball, scoring over 1,000 points, and was also a football player for the Black Knights before transferring to Lee Academy in Maine.
“A very long way from Stoughton,’’ said Calixte, who played there from 2009-2012.
The journey at Oklahoma began on Friday night when he was in the Sooners’ starting lineup for a 91-76 road win over the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Calixte had 15 points, making three 3-points in four tries, to go with three assists and a steal in 28 minutes.
Calixte said he made up his mind to look elsewhere for his final season last March 5, two days after the Black Bears’ season ended with a loss to Vermont in the America East tournament.
“We had our playoff game on a Saturday and then that Monday, coach (Bob Walsh) got fired,’’ said Calixte. “They brought in a new coach (Richard Barron) that day, so that’s when I decided I was going to do a grad transfer year.’’
Among the many schools Calixte was looking at were Florida State, DePaul, Grand Canyon and Saint Bonaventure, but Oklahoma was the most appealing, and he made the decision to join the Sooners in April.
“Lon Kruger was the selling point for me,’’ said Calixte of the Oklahoma coach. “And there are a bunch of older guys here and there was a need for a point guard.’’
So Calixte packed his bags and headed out of New England to complete his collegiate career as a graduate student.
“A little bit of a culture shock,’’ said Calixte of being in Oklahoma. “It’s something I’m not used to, but the guys here are making the transition easier.’’
Calixte left Stoughton High for Lee Academy in 2012 and attended school there for two years before moving on to the University of Maine.
After registering more than 1,000 points at Stoughton, Calixte went north to prepare for college, both in the classroom and on the court.
“It helped me a lot,’’ said Calixte of attending Lee. “We played against a bunch of ranked teams like Brewster, New Hampton, Bridgton and a lot of prep school guys who were going high major Division 1 and mid-major levels. It was good to get out there and get some exposure.’’
An injury just prior to his final season at Lee detoured the recruiting process, and he didn’t return to the court until late December.
Unlike last spring when Calixte had plenty of Division 1 interest, there were no big-name schools in the hunt when he was come out of Lee Academy.
He was recruited to Maine by its new coach, Walsh, and moved into the starting lineup as a freshman in the 2014-15 season.
“I had to work for it,’’ said Calixte, who averaged 7.3 points and 3.4 assists in 30 games with 28 starts. “I had no idea going into my freshman year what would happen. He just told me everything would have to be earned and that was my mindset going in and I ended up with the starting position.
“I didn’t do well at all. I think I was trying to figure it out more than anything. My numbers weren’t that good. I was timid. I struggled offensively shooting the ball. But I just stayed in the gym and got better in the summer.’’
As a sophomore, Calixte started 26 games and increased his scoring to 10.8 points, but a stress fracture in his foot early in the 2016-17 season put him out for the year.
“It was very tough,’’ said Calixte. “That was my first time actually getting hurt during a basketball season and having to miss a whole season. It was very hard on my mentally.
“But I think it was almost like a blessing in disguise. I got to look at the game and see the game from a different perspective, just watching a lot of film and see things I wouldn’t have seen if I didn’t sit out. It was a bad thing, but it was a good thing at the same time.’’
Calixte returned last winter and had his best season, scoring 16.9 points per game to go with 3.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 33.2 minutes. He shot 39 percent from 3-point range and 89.9 percent from the foul line while earning a spot on the All-America East third team.
“I couldn’t work on my game that whole year I was hurt, but as soon as I got back, I was hungry and I knew what I had to do and what I needed to work on,’’ said Calixte. “That carried over all summer and into the season.’’
Maine struggled during Calixte’s career, going 17-75 in three seasons he was on the court and 7-25 during the year he sat out with the injury.
Now he is a starter for the Sooners in the Big 12, going against teams such as Kansas, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma State.
“Aaron is a great young man,” Kruger told Soonersports.com earlier this year. “A lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy, really excited about being here. Had a good career up at Maine and we’re excited about the timing of him coming in and providing great leadership at the point.
“Really quick offensively and pushes the ball in transition, a scoring point guard - which we really like in our program - and is very active, very aggressive on the defensive end.”
Playing for such an upper-level program wasn’t a possibility for Calixte after he left Lee Academy in 2014, but he’s getting the chance now.
“I didn’t see that happening for me then,’’ said Calixte. “I had gotten hurt and my recruitment went down. I wasn’t worried about that. I was just worried about whatever schools wanted me at that point.
“Now I want to win the Big 12 championship and play in the NCAA tournament.’’
Jim Fenton may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.