Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/23/13
I’ll be making a player profile of each Tar Heel leading up to the season, beginning with the starters then the other players on the team. Marcus Paige comes into his sophomore season with some lofty expectations. Of course who wouldn’t expect some improvement from the guard? By the end of last season, Paige looked much more comfortable running the offense and became an even more effective scorer. I guess you could say his confidence finally settled those freshman nerves. Marcus Paige celebrating after a play (Photo credit: Bernard Thomas per The Herald-Sun) Paige was averaging about 29.2 minutes per game last season. During his time on the floor his averages were as follows: 8.2 points, 2.7 boards, 4.6 assists, and 2.7 turnovers per game. His shooting percentage from the field was 35.6 % with his three point percentage as 34.4%. Overall, his freshman year was probably where it should have been without the guidance of Kendall Marshall, who pursued the NBA. In the table below, here is a comparison of Paige’s first five regular season games to the last five (Note: the last five games include the ACC and NCAA tournament): MIN FG% 3P% REB AST TO PPG First 5 25.6 36.6 25.0 2.4 3.6 3.4 7.6 Last 5 31.8 52.7 42.9 2.0 4.8 2.0 11.4 As the table suggests, Paige began to exemplify his game, becoming a much better passer and more efficient scorer in the five game samples. Paige’s frequent turnovers dropped and his assists increased. Seeing that only solidifies the fact that Paige had become much better at finding teammates and handling the ball. He will be looking to break out this season and become one of the more lethal point guards in the college game. Roy Williams should be ecstatic this season as he has another young guard, Nate Britt, coming into the picture, and with the experience that Paige earned and his maturity after just one season, we could see a deadly point guard combo that Roy used during his 2001-2002 season with the Kansas Jayhawks that led them to the Final Four. It was an explosive offense, just the way Williams likes it. The pairing of Paige and Britt could certainly bring up that same dynamic, especially with Britt having Paige as a model to aspire to. I see Paige becoming a lot more efficient in each of the categories above. During the off-season he’s packed on 20 more pounds which will allow him to take a little more punishment when he drives. With his quickness he’ll be a dagger in the paint against the defense, giving him the option to take it or find an open teammate for an easy bucket. If he can become more of a weapon in the half-court, not only will the Tar Heels have that devastating transition game but will be able to break down some of the tougher defenses in the ACC. Last season the Tar Heels had to resort to a lot of inappropriate and off-balanced jump shots late in the clock. With Marcus Paige at the helm and the maturity that he earned from last season and this off season, I believe that the jumpers which caused Tar Heel fans to cringe will be occurring less and a more fluid half-court offense will appear.    

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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