Three Reasons Why Marcus Paige will win ACC Player of the Year Next Season


Marcus Paige has had an interesting career while playing at UNC. He was thrust into action as a true freshman point guard when Kendall Marshall went pro earlier than anyone expected. He was thrust into the spotlight his sophomore season when PJ Hairston and Leslie MacDonald were suspended. And he was thrust into the player of the year conversation his junior year when expectations of continued success and high hopes were thrown his way.

All in all Marcus has handled all the attention with aplomb and though he didn’t exactly win player of the year last year as was predicted by many, he was still the best player on a team that was five minutes away from beating the national runner up in the Sweet Sixteen. So what should Tar Heel Nation expect from Mr. Paige this year? Here are three reasons why he is the front-runner for ACC player of the year.


By now most people have heard that Marcus Paige played through plantar fasciitis, which caused pain in his foot and limited his ability to be, well Marcus Paige. This was evident by the end of the season when he was actually getting healthier and he started being more effective on the floor. Despite this injury he still led the team in points, assists, and, what has become the norm the last few years, three pointers made. If he could do all that on just one good foot, imagine what he can do on two good feet. A healthy Marcus Paige, means a dangerous Marcus Paige.

Improved Talent around Him

Mar 26, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) moves to the basket against Wisconsin Badgers forward Sam Dekker (15) during the second half in the semifinals of the west regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A player can only do so much to help a team win and even though the Tar Heels will only go as far as their star point guard will take them, the game of basketball has always been a team sport. For all the points Paige can score (I think it’s fair to note that last year’s scoring champ played for Boston College), true player of the year candidates do more than just that.

This is where playing with a good team can help the cause. Marcus Paige will be a lot more efficient and have a higher field goal percentage, if the lane opens up because other players like Justin Jackson and Joel Berry are hitting their threes. He will gather in much more assists if Brice Johnson and a slimmer Kennedy Meeks continue to slam home quick passes after deep drives and devastating Ally Oops. He will gather more steals and rebounds if Joel James blocks shots and Theo Pinson becomes a lock down defender. Increases in those key areas will make it hard for voters to look past Marcus, particularly if UNC is a top three team. If Marcus is to win ACC player of the year, his team needs to win and that means improvement from the guys around him.

Lack of Competition

Two of the main components to being a front-runner for player of the year in any conference are continuity and record. Rarely does a player on a bad team win player of the year and freshmen have to be in a class of their own, kind of like Jahil Okafor was last year. So that often limits top picks to returning players on top 5 teams. Looking at returning talent, race for player of the year probably will come down to Malcolm Brogdan of Virginia, Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame, and UNC’s Marcus Paige ( I intentionally didn’t mention anyone at Duke due to turnover, Allen needing to be consistent, and Brandon Ingram’s minutes being limited by the current depth chart).

Paige has an advantage in that his team is considered not only an ACC favorite but also a National favorite and he has a chance to break a few school records for 3-pointers made. Though others may step up, the fact that most of the better players went pro (Okafor, Anderson, Winslow) should make this Paige’s award to lose.

These three reasons will put a bigger spotlight on the Tar Heels meaning more games to showcase not only Marcus Paige but the talent around him. Just as Kaminsky and Okafor last year, the more talk, the better chance of receiving national acclaim, especially if said team can live up to such lofty expectations. With that said, not only does Paige have a legitimate claim to ACC player of the year but also to the opportunity to have his number retired and hung in the rafters with a good season.

This is a big year for Marcus Paige, with lots of expectations. Now the burden falls on Paige to deliver and play up to the high expectations placed upon him.