North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams addressed the starting point guard position at UNCs media day and surprised some when he stated that he expects freshman Marcus Paige to be his starter. Many expected Paige to compete with senior combo guard Dexter Strickland who is coming off an ACL injury for the role, however Roy seems to have already tapped the freshman for the role.
Paige was rated the #22 overall prospect in the 2012 class, but rated as the #1 PG. Williams cited his skill and mental toughness as reasons why he expected Paige to be the next starting PG for the Tar Heels. Paige looked terrific in UNCs scrimmage at Late Night with Roy and really looked the part. He showed he can lead the break and handle the team in the half court.
Paige also showed us somethings that we didn’t see from the guy he’s replacing, Kendall Marshall. The freshman was known as a potent scorer with three point range in high school and that was on display. He can take it to the basket and kick it out to the open man and has nice finishing skills at the basket for a player his size. The thing that caught my eye the most about his game, his quick trigger. Coming off a screen, Paige launched a three from the top of the key with a defender quickly closing in and buried it.
He plays with a veterans confidence, a good pace to the game, he knows when to turn it on, and when to slow it down. The kid is a true floor general. He is a great ball handler who will take care of the basketball, you won’t see him commit many turnovers or mental mistakes. I’ve said this a few times, you never, ever want to lose Kendall Marshall, but if you have to, you want Marcus Paige as his replacement.
Paige is not Marshall, he will not break Marshall’s assist records but I expect him to be not only good, but great in his own right. It was cool seeing the southpaw dawn #5, something just seems right about the Carolina PG wearing that number after Ty Lawson and Marshall wore it.
It says a lot that Roy Williams, who typically favors upperclassmen is so quick to anoint Paige his starter. We will likely see some growing pains out of the freshman this season, but if Late Night was any indication, we won’t have to go through many.