The University of North Carolina put together a season similar to that of last year’s. The Tar Heels received a No. 6 preseason ranking after advancing to the third round of the tournament and finishing the 2013-14 season 24-10 (13-5).
This year, head coach Roy Williams and his squad are entering March Madness with a No. 4 seed in the West region bracket, second in the nation in rebounds (41.0) and assists (17.7) per game and a regular season record of 24-11, 11-7 in the ACC and conference tournament runners-up.
And one player helping to lead the charge is junior Marcus Paige. Here’s what you need to know about the Tar Heels’ No. 5:
1. Paige Was a 2013-14 Academic All-American
In high school, Paige wasn’t only recruited for his skills on the hardwood, but also for his work in the classroom. At Linn-Mar High School, Paige was a three-year starter on the Lions’ basketball team, held a 4.0 GPA and was a member of the honor roll all four years.
And his strong academic performances have translated to his time at UNC. Last year, Paige was named to the Capital One Academic All-American (CoSIDA) second-team. He’s majoring in journalism and mass communications and has a 3.39 GPA.
2. Paige Ranks in the Top 10 in Four ACC Stat Categories
Although the 6-foot-1 guard’s stats are slightly lower than his numbers during last season, Paige still ranks among the top ACC performers in multiple categories.
Paige averages 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He’s also shooting 41.5 percent from the field, 38.6 percent from 3-point range and 86.0 percent from the free throw line.
In the ACC, Paige is ranked fifth in assists and seventh in steals, 3-pointers made and shooting percentage from behind the arc.
3. Paige Was Named 2012 Mr. Iowa Basketball
As a three-year starter at Linn-Mar High School, the Marion, Iowa native achieved many accolades during his career with the Lions.
Paige earned both all-state and state tournament honors in all three seasons. In his junior year, he averaged 17.7 points and helped lead the Lions not only to an undefeated season, but also the 2011 4-A state title. As a senior, Paige averaged 28.1 points and led his team to a 20-6 record and another state tournament berth – this one ended at the state semifinals.
Paige scored 46 points in one game and then a personal-best 49 points in one of the state playoff games. He also set the school’s career scoring record, was named as a Parade All-American, played in the 2012 McDonald’s All-Star Game and was invited to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. Unfortunately he couldn’t play in the Jordan or Nike games because of a stress fracture in his left foot.
Following his senior season, Paige was named 2012 Mr. Iowa Basketball, was ranked No. 1 in the state, considered the best point guard recruit of his class and was ranked No. 22 in the ESPN Top 100 and No. 34 by Rivals.
Paige received offers from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Virginia, but committed to UNC in January 2011.
4. Paige Is Projected as a Second Round 2015 NBA Draft Pick
According to DraftExpress, Paige is a potential second round 2015 NBA Draft pick.
He is ranked as No. 15 among NCAA juniors and No. 33 overall. Maryland’s Melo Trimble is ranked right in front of him (No. 33) and St. Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry is ranked behind him (No. 35).
5. Paige Likes to Dance…a lot
Apparently Paige’s moves aren’t only limited to the hardwood. The guard has drawn a lot of attention with his dancing abilities as well.