With Kendall Marshall part of North Carolina‘s exodus of underclassmen to leave for the NBA Draft, the Tar Heels will be searching for a new floor general next season. McDonald’s All-American Marcus Paige will likely be the guy to step into that role.
“I’ll be ready.”
That is what Paige said at the MAA media day when asked about the possibility of replacing Marshall as UNC’s point guard. Marshall’s decision to leave UNC after his sophomore season makes Paige the only true point guard on the Heels’ roster for next season.
Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald who are both returning from season-ending injuries are also capable of running the show.
Stillman White, who started when Marshall was hurt in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, will leave for a Mormon mission soon and not play basketball the next two seasons. That puts a lot of pressure on Paige, but he should be able to step in right away and take the reins of the offense.
Paige is a 6-1 point guard who like Marshall, is a lefty that excels at running an offense and getting his teammates involved. “Overall feel for the point guard position,” is what Paige described as his biggest strength. “I know when to attack and when to find my open teammates. I’ve become a pretty good shooter over the past year.”
That might be where Paige has a leg up on Marshall. The in-coming freshman has proven to be a solid outside shooter during his career at Linn-Mar High School, an area Marshall struggled at during his two years in college. Paige knows that being a scoring point guard isn’t an immediate need at UNC and he hopes to follow the blueprint that Marshall left behind in being a successful floor leader of Carolina’s up-tempo attack.
“He’s so important to our offense,” Paige said of Marshall. “He’s obviously the engine of the Carolina break. You saw in the NCAA tournament that when we don’t have an elite level point guard, our offense shifts and how it changes. So hopefully I’ll be able to come in and do something similar to what he did.”
Paige certainly isn’t the first blue chip recruit Roy Williams has brought in from the state of Iowa. Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich, and Raef LaFrentz all came to Kansas from the Hawkeye State. Most recently, Williams recruited Harrison Barnes to UNC from Ames, Iowa.
Paige chose to head east, turning down offers from Big 10 schools like Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota as well as Virginia. He is the 64th McDonald’s All-American who will wear the Carolina blue and the allure of playing for such a storied program was too great an opportunity to pass up.
“It definitely didn’t hurt my decision,” Paige stated. “Also, they’ve had a good tradition of winning and point guards, so that helped too.”
If Carolina is to keep that tradition of winning alive next season, Paige will have to be an immediate impact player and try to pick up where Marshall left off in leading the Tar Heels’ offense.
(This was a Paul M. Banks/David Kay collaboration.)
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.