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Opposing teams, be forewarned: This is not the same Marcus Paige you'll see in last season's tapes. Feel free to ignore that warning, though.
Paige is no longer a shell-shocked freshman with a 157-pound frame. He's the top point guard in his class (2012 ESPN 100) with 35 games of experience under his belt. It was also last reported in July by Inside Carolina that the rising sophomore was up to 171 pounds.
Those factors are going to help Paige in so many ways.
He's an extremely intelligent player with great instincts, ball-handling and a smooth stroke from deep. Having to learn the system on the fly slowed down his game and affected his confidence, which was evident with his poor early-season shooting and indecisiveness.
By the end of the season, he was drilling treys with Bullock and Hairston and dishing the rock without hesitation.
That will be the Marcus Paige of 2013-14. He will have more weapons on the floor to distribute to, and he'll be counted on as one of the Tar Heels' top three-point threats.
But that's just on offense.
What seems to be talked about the least is Paige's defense, which earned UNC's Defensive Player of the Year award. His previous lack of strength did hurt his on-ball efforts, but he made up for it with hustle.
The guy never gives up on a play, and he had a knack for poking the ball loose from behind—even on fast breaks. Paige averaged 1.4 steals per game as a freshman, which is good, but he forced a lot more than that stat indicates.
Between his work ethic, intelligence, God-given talent and offseason assistance from former Tar Heels Raymond Felton, Kendall Marshall and Ty Lawson, Marcus Paige is primed for a breakout season with North Carolina.
There is a sneaky-good team forming in Chapel Hill.