Anyone that says the kid in that highlight reel can't impact this squad is off their rocker. Marcus Paige is for real, despite his slight measurements.
That seems to be the biggest knock on the Tar Heels' latest floor general. At 6'1" and 157 pounds, detractors have an argument to make. But I seem to remember a certain Ed Cota sporting a similar frame.
I don't think anyone that follows the Tar Heels would argue with what Cota was able to do at this level. He was the 1997 ACC Rookie of the Year, broke the single-season record for assists the following year and led Carolina to three Final Four appearances.
There has been plenty of undersized players that thrived in college but couldn't compete in the NBA. Maryland's Juan Dixon also comes to mind.
What matters this year is how Paige plays on the college hardwood.
And don't give me the fact he is a "just" 4-star recruit and not the No. 1-ranked point guard like Ty Lawson. Kendall Marshall was a 4-star that ranked No. 9 in the country at his position.
Now that I'm done ranting, let's talk about what he will do on offense.
At Linn-Marr, Marcus Paige was an offensive juggernaut. While he only averaged 3.3 assists, he put up 28.1 points per game on 53 percent shooting. It was a must with their lack of scoring options.
He may be small in stature, but he has enough quickness and ball skills to get by his defender and enough lift to score in the paint. When the defender backs off to block him from the lane, Paige can make him pay by dropping a trey in his eye.
Paige shot 44 percent beyond the arc last season on 117 attempts. He isn't afraid to shoot it.
If he can get in the paint and pick up some fouls, he is an 86 percent shooter from the charity stripe. That would help boost Carolina's awful 67.7 percent free-throw shooting from last season.
Though he was forced to score more than pass in prep, Marcus Paige has excellent vision and has no problems dishing the rock.
I think it is clear Paige will be the most impactful freshman on offense. But will he be the starting point guard?
Roy Williams refuses to set his lineups in stone before he sees them over a few weeks of practice. However, in the latest issue of Inside Carolina, he gave a couple indicators of where he is leaning.
Greg Barnes asked him if he "plans to keep Dexter at point guard full-time." Here is Roy's answer:
No. That plan has never been in my mind because Dexter is not a point guard. My thing is to try to get Dexter to be a more efficient point guard, but he's not a point guard. Never has been.
Greg Barnes also asked if Paige would have a chance to see a lot of playing time this year:
I think he does. I really think he's got a chance to be a special player. You never can tell how a freshman is going to react until you put him out there, but I have a tremendous amount of confidence that he'll react very well.
It sounds to me we have as clear-cut a starter as Roy Williams is willing to give us. Again, nothing will be set in stone until practice is under way.
I have a good feeling about Marcus Paige, though. There will be some freshman jitters that lead to mistakes on the floor. But the hefty chunk of minutes he will play from the beginning of the season will help mold him into a solid floor general by the time ACC competition rolls around.
Get ready to enjoy another year of top-notch play at the point.