Raymond Felton, Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall are three of the best point guards in college basketball over the last decade and they were all Tar Heels. North Carolina has a rich history of point guards and Marcus Paige has a chance to have his name in the conversation with those three players.
Paige had a solid freshman campaign for the Tar Heels. He averaged 8.2 points per a game along with 4.6 assists. He was named to the All-ACC freshman team and looked better and better as the season went on. He was mostly a facilitator with wing players Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston getting the majority of shots on the perimeter.
However, with Bullock gone to the NBA and Hairston suspended after numerous offseason incidents, Roy Williams needs Paige to be a facilitator as well as a scorer for this Tar Heels team to be successful.
Paige is a sleek lefty guard, who is more like Marshall then Felton and Lawson, as he is more pass-first and does not have the explosive athleticism like the other two. However, early on in this season, he is showing the ability to score the basketball and be a tough guard for teams to defend.
It was never more obvious how good Paige could be then in today’s win over No. 3 ranked Louisville. He went off for 32 points and went head-to-head with Russ Smith for Louisville, who was a preseason All-American. He scored in a variety of ways, but earned a lot of it at the foul line where he went 11-11. Most importantly he was calm under the daunting pressure that Louisville applies and did not let it dictate the game. It was the type of game that signified Paige had made that leap many expected from his freshman to sophomore game. All the past UNC point guards dominated games against top teams throughout their career. That is why they are considered some of the best college point guards in some time.
Paige certainly has room to improve. His jumpshot still needs to improve and he can continue to get stronger. He is not ready to be in the same class with past UNC point guards yet, but keep an eye on Paige’s development because if he has a few more games like he did against Lousiville, he could be the next great UNC point guard.