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Knowing how important the point guard is in the run-and-gun system of Roy Williams, incoming freshman Marcus Paige will have some big shoes to fill with Kendall Marshall entering the NBA draft.
But from what I've seen of Paige, he will be ready to step up this November.
Listed at 6'1” and 165 pounds, Paige is probably going to have to put on weight to play at the NBA level, but right now, I'm just worried about what he'll do at UNC.
Paige finished his senior season averaging 28.4 points, 3.5 assists and four rebounds per game. He also knocked down 44 percent of his three-point attempts. In a 49-point performance in a state playoff game, he scored 21 of the team's first 24 points.
Don't expect scoring numbers like that at Carolina, as he will be more focused on distribution, but it's good to know he can.
As the lone returning starter, his high school team relied on him to score more than distribute, so don't look at the 3.5 average and think he can't get it done.
In the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game, he dished out seven dimes—and quite a few were a thing of beauty. Over about a two-minute span in the second half, Paige had a beautiful 35-foot alley-oop to Shabazz Muhammad, followed by a no-look to Grant Jarrett on a fast break and a behind-the-back bounce pass. He also picked off a pass during that time.
For the game, Paige finished with four points, seven assists and just one turnover, one block and one steal over 20 minutes of play. And he seemed to have a better grasp on defense than Marshall did when he entered Chapel Hill—his speed helps here.
Paige is suffering from a stress fracture in his left foot, but he should be healed up and ready to go in 12-16 weeks—and ready to take on the challenge of the ACC.
I'm pretty pleased with what I have seen from Marcus Paige and according to his high school coach Chris Robertson, he has the smarts to step right in, as well:
“He’s just thinking ahead all the time. ‘When do we push? When do we pull back? When do we run a set?’ As he progressed through his career, I didn’t have to say much to him.”
And here's Roy Williams' take on Marcus Paige:
“Marcus is a great floor general who, like the other three young men that we’ve signed, comes from a great family. He’s a straight-A student who comes from a basketball family. His mom was a long-time high school basketball coach, and his older sister plays at Wisconsin. Marcus is the type of player that everyone on the floor likes to play alongside.”
You can also check out this Marcus Paige highlight reel.