UNC Basketball Player Profiles: Marcus Paige


North Carolina has commonly been referred to over the years as point guard U since the program consistently brought in top prospect floor generals to run their offense. Whether they were running the “Four Corners” or the “Secondary Break”, Tar Heel point guards have constantly made a name for themselves. Names such as Phil Ford, Kenny Smith, Jimmy Black, Derrick Phelps, Jeff McGinnis, Ed Cota, Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall all still resonate with college basketball disciples as some of the best to play college basketball. Next up: Marcus Paige.

Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Marcus Paige committed to play for Coach Roy Williams back in January of 2011 making him the first signee of the current freshman class. I think many of us were under the impression that when he committed that he would serve as a great backup option to a veteran Marshall, but of course, the Kousy Award winner decided it was time to take his talent onward to the NBA. That left Paige at the top of the depth chart. Roy has already stated that he fully anticipates Marcus being the starter even with no experience at the college level. I had always assumed that Roy would lean in favor of senior Dexter Strickland to start who had been Kendall’s backup for the better part of two season, but Dex’s continuing recovery from his ACL injury I’m sure made the decision for Roy to start Paige relatively easy. At this point, there is no reason to believe that Marcus can’t handle it.

Paige is a skinny guy measuring at 6-1 and 160 lbs, but his knack for handling and moving the basketball up the floor make up for it. Regarded by most as the best prep point guard in the country out of high school, Paige had a spectacular senior season averaging over 26 ppg. His scoring ability both on the drive and from distance far exceed Marshall and while he may not average 10 assists a game, Paige does possess great floor vision.

My only concern with Marcus at this time is that his small stature will cause him to be knocked around some while he penetrates towards the basket. Getting bumped can be productive and allow you as a player to get to the free throw line, but I just hope that he doesn’t get knocked senseless or injured. Point guard depth is all of a sudden a huge issue. With Kendall gone, Stillman White on his mission and Dex recovering from surgery still, Paige needs to take care of himself because there are not many options behind him.

One big question for Tar Heel fans will be how does Marcus handle the fast break? That should be the least of our concern. Paige is a smart kid and has great poise. He doesn’t move as fast as Ty Lawson, but he has a similar ability to score around the basket in transition. He also my not have the confidence to pass the full length of the court the way that Marshall did, but Paige has great control with both hands and the vision to see the open man. With all the talented wings around him, Paige will sure be eager to set his teammates up for points.

North Carolina will go as Marcus goes this season. Even with all the talent that guys like James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock possess, the point guard is king in this offense and when their off then the team is as well (just ask Larry Drew). Fortunately for Tar Heel fans, if there is one freshman out there that can step right in and take over a Kousy Award winner and first round draft pick’s spot, it’s Marcus Paige.