North Carolina has been hosting summer interviews with its returning basketball players in recent weeks, and on Thursday us media hacks had a chance to spend some time with Marcus Paige, who will enter his junior season with no shortage of expectations and attention.
Paige spent more than 20 minutes answering our questions – and answering them well, as is the usual with him – and so he spoke about a variety of things. He said he’s working on becoming a more versatile offensive player and extending his shooting range, and that he’s more “at ease” entering his junior season.
Makes sense. He’s been around for a while now.
Here’s what I considered to be the five most interesting questions (paraphrased below, for space and clarity) he answered on Thursday:
Some quick thoughts:
--Will be interesting to see how UNC’s starting backcourt develops – and what it winds up being. Paige’s preference, as he said, would be to start at point guard. So who, then, starts at shooting guard? Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson, a pair of freshmen, seem to be the only options there, and Paige, in his answer above, seems to like Jackson’s game a lot. Jackson is bigger. He’s 6-foot-7, and there are questions about whether he could effectively defend smaller guards. Of course, his athleticism could give him an advantage against smaller players. The most experienced backcourt combination would be the one we saw a lot of last season: Nate Britt at point guard and Paige at shooting guard. Paige will again play the two, but does he start there? Doesn’t seem to be his preference.
--One question I didn’t include above, but worth mentioning, was about how Paige could have a better season this year but not necessarily have that reflected in his numbers. “Oh, that’s very possible,” he said. Paige is expecting UNC to be a more balanced offensive team this season. He’s expecting more production out of Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and J.P. Tokoto, and Paige is expecting to have to take fewer difficult shots – the kind he was often forced to take a season ago given UNC’s limitations on offense.