Marcus Paige had his moment on Thursday night, one that some NBA Draft experts predicted might not happen. It happened, though: Paige’s name was called, after all.
The Brooklyn Nets drafted Paige with the 55th overall selection and then traded him to the Utah Jazz, who reportedly were behind the decision to draft Paige. For Paige, who was absent most mock drafts, the moment was a long time coming.
And a moment that many doubted would become reality. DraftExpress.com, for instance, which is perhaps the foremost source of NBA Draft projections and speculation, didn't include Paige in any of its mock drafts leading into Thursday night.
Paige's critics, and there were many, apparently, among NBA scouts and personnel directors, found fault in his game. Perhaps to some he wasn't athletic enough, or a good enough shot creator. To others his size, and particularly his slender build, might have been a concern.
It only takes one team to like a player enough to draft him, though, and the Jazz evidently liked Paige enough to offer him an opportunity. What Paige lacked in measurables he compensated for in other areas. His record of making clutch plays probably didn’t hurt, either.
Despite that prolonged shooting slump he endured during the middle of his senior season, Paige built a reputation at UNC for being a dependable player in tense, pressure-filled moments. There was the game-winning shot he made against Louisville his junior year. Another at N.C. State during his sophomore season.
And, yes, the off-balance, double-clutching 3-pointer he made to tie the national championship game in the final seconds against Villanova in April. Moments later, Paige and the Tar Heels were upstaged by an even more dramatic shot from Kris Jenkins, whose 3-pointer at the buzzer instantly became one of the greatest shots in college basketball history.
Paige's shot seconds earlier, by the way, belongs in that conversation, as well. More than his ability to make important shots, though, Paige built his reputation on his intangibles.
He excelled in the classroom and outside of it. He became a beloved fan favorite at UNC, and a coach's favorite, too, given the praise that UNC coach Roy Williams often directed toward Paige during his four seasons in Chapel Hill.
If you didn't know, Paige had a way with media members, too. Those writers might who have a chance to cover him in Utah could well come to appreciate Paige's uncanny ability write their stories for them, all in the span of a relatively short postgame interview.