UNC in the NBA: Paige, Meeks and Hicks performing well in NBA G-League

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Marcus Paige
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04: Marcus Paige /

Former Tar Heels performing well in NBA G-League are hoping to get the call up

Three University of North Carolina alumni are playing well for their respective teams in the NBA G-League.

Marcus Paige, Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks are hoping to parlay their G-League success over to a permanent position with an NBA team. And with the results they’re each seeing this season, that’s entirely possible.

Paige has asserted himself as a leader in Greensboro, while Hicks and Meeks are two of the best rebounders on their respective teams.

Take a look at what the former Tar Heels have been up to in their current assignments, as they strive to make the jump to the highest level.

Marcus Paige

Former North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige is making the most of his time in the NBA G-League this season.

He became one of the first players in NBA history to sign a two-way contract, allowing him to play for both the Charlotte Hornets and their G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.

While Paige is able to dress for Charlotte up to 45 times this season, the majority of his time has been spent in Greensboro. And although the lion’s share of Paige’s time with the Hornets is spent on the bench, he has a significant role with the Swarm.

On Tuesday night against the Lakeland Magic, Paige scored a team-high 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-8 from three-point range and 5-for-7 from the charity stripe. He also recorded three assists to zero turnovers in 31 minutes of play.

Paige helped Greensboro mount a fourth quarter comeback against Lakeland, tying the game and forcing overtime. The Swarm couldn’t hold on in the extra period, though, and dropped the game by a final score of 116-114.

The loss dropped Greensboro to 9-20 on the season, good for last place in the Southeast Division and tied for the second-worst record in the league.

Paige, though, has been a bright spot for the Swarm this season. He’s averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals, and playing better than 32 minutes per game. He’s started in 24 of the team’s 29 games this season, and shooting greater than 35 percent from long-distance.

Isaiah Hicks

Isaiah Hicks led the Westchester Knicks to a 100-93 victory on Tuesday night, scoring a team-high 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. He also recorded seven rebounds, three blocks, two steals and an assist in just 22 minutes of play.

The 22 minutes that Hicks played, though, were a result of the six fouls that earned him an early disqualification from the game. Had he not been the benefactor of so many blown whistles, a problem that the former Tar Heel often dealt with in college, his box score would likely have been even more impressive.

But regardless of the nearly four fouls per game that Hicks is averaging, he’s having a nice season for the New York Knicks’ G-League affiliate.

Hicks has started 29 of the 30 games that he’s played in, averaging better than 29 minutes per contest. He’s scoring 15.2 points per game on 58 percent shooting, to go along with 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 assists.

Kennedy Meeks

Raptors 905′ rookie center Kennedy Meeks is having a nice run with the Toronto Raptors’ G-League affiliate that plays in Mississauga, Ontario.

The 6-foot-10, 270-pound big man out of North Carolina is averaging 12.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the Raptors. And his offensive boards, similar to what he did for the Tar Heels during their title run in 2017, make up nearly 45 percent of his total rebounds.

He’s been efficient in his rookie season, too, shooting nearly 50 percent while extending his shot out beyond his normal comfort zone. And he’s started in 18 of his 25 games, playing over 27 minutes per night.

The first-year big man out of North Carolina is currently fifth on the team in scoring, second in rebounding and fifth in shooting percentage.

On Monday night against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, he scored 15 points in 17 minutes, hitting seven of his 11 shot attempts. He added three rebounds and a block in helping the 905 come away with a 113-95 victory.

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Raptors 905 is now 18-12 on the season, good for second-place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.