The North Carolina Tar Heels had some serious issues at the point guard position in 2011. Backup point guard/starting shooting guard Dexter Strickland tore his ACL, ending his season mid-way through. Then the unthinkable happened, just as Carolina was gaining momentum as a team. Kendall Marshall broke his wrist (and elbow too apparently) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Before the 2012 season could even start the position took a couple more hits. First was the departure of Marshall to the NBA Draft. Marshall was a bit of a surprise entry at first. Roy Williams has said he didn’t anticipate that Marshall would leave after his sophomore season. Marshall’s magical March in which he became a shooting and scoring threat pushed Marshall out of Chapel Hill and into the NBA.
The his replacement, incoming freshman Marcus Paige broke his foot in the McDonalds All-American game. Paige, the highest rated ACC prospect in the 2012 class is expected to assume the starting role from Marshall in his freshman season. The Heels will again be thin at the position this season even if Paige and Strickland stay healthy.
Strickland will again serve as the main backup while also competing to resume his role as the teams starting shooting guard. One injury this season and it’s going to feel like deja vu all over again in Chapel Hill. Roy Williams recently confirmed prior statements that both Paige and Strickland would be ready for practice this October (seems so far away doesn’t it?).
“Dexter is being released now to shoot jump shots, but no sharp cuts, no playing, but just to do a little bit of different running and jumping on his knee,” Williams said. “I would expect by August that Dexter would be released for everything, knock on wood, as long as everything keeps going in the right direction.”
“I think you always worry some, but I’ve got a great deal of confidence in Marcus being really good,” Williams said. “He’s got to get healthy. He broke his foot in the McDonald’s All-American game, so he’s had the surgery, but everything has gone very well and [the freshmen] will be [here] in six or seven days and I think he’ll be able to go in our work outs and pick up games, but there’s no question we’re going to ask him to do a lot, but I think he’s really going to be a good player.”via scout.com
Roy generally doesn’t start freshman PGs. He was even starting Larry Drew III over Marshall for a while Kendall’s freshman season. This season he will have no choice. I’ve said this over and over, but you can’t replace Kendall Marshall, if you have to try, Marcus Paige is the guy you want.
Paige is a natural floor general and a terrific leader on the court. An outstanding scorer, Paige can create his own how and is excellent on the catch and shoot. A very good passer with excellent hands and finishing ability. Paige needs to bulk up in the upper body and make up for his less than dazzling speed at the next level. A big time scorer in high school, Paige could be an instant dual threat at the next level.
Just like 2011, the 2012 season could absolutely be a great one for Carolina PGs. Or it could turn into disaster. If Marcus Paige gets hurt, it’s over in terms of any significant run by Carolina. If Dexter Strickland gets hurt, the strain would be immensely tougher on Paige in his freshman campaign than it was for Marshall without a proven back up.