In late October, NBA team The Utah Jazz cut former UNC basketball player Marcus Paige — along with two other players — from their roster. Despite only stealing a late second round pick in the NBA draft last last year, Paige is regarded by some as one of the best guards to come through Chapel Hill. He is currently set to play in the Developmental League for the Salt Lake City Stars.
Marcus Paige came to UNC in 2012 from Marion, Iowa, and stayed in Chapel Hill through the end of the 2016 season. Paige replaced Kendall Marshall as the team’s starting point guard his sophomore year after Marshall left early for the NBA, and he helped lead the Tar Heels to the NCAA tournament championship game last Spring.
Early in his college career, Paige established himself as skilled shooter. Sophomore year, his field goal percentage was 44% (39% beyond the arc) and he averaged 17.5 points per game. His free throw percentage was also consistently ranked near the top of the ACC, averaging out to a career 85% and peaking in 2013 at almost 90%. However, a fractured right hand prevented Paige from playing the first month of his senior season, and his performance remained below average. That season, his points per game dropped from over 17 his sophomore year to just over 12, and his field goal percentage dipped below 40% for the first time since he came to UNC.
Still, Paige made up for an underwhelming regular season with a spectacular 2016 NCAA tournament to end his college career. His three point shooting percentage was 49% for the tournament, and during the championship matchup against Villanova, he his miraculous 3 point shot late in the game brought the Heels within an inch of the title.
Besides his athletic accomplishments, Paige, who double-majored in History and Journalism, is known for being an outstanding student. His senior year, he was named a First Team Academic All-American. That year, he also became the first Tar Heel basketball player to earn Academic All-American honors three years in a row.
Paige played in two preseason games for the Jazz, averaging 5.5 points and 1.5 assists.
“I thought he had a decent preseason so I have no clue what happened,” senior Michael Donovan said.” Others had a slightly different response.
“That’s what happens when you’re scrawny,” said teacher Jaime Schendt.
While Schendt’s remarks may have been in good humor, some would argue his point holds true. At under 160 pounds, Paige could struggle to keep up with other larger and taller professional athletes.
Fans hope he will have success in the D League, which would likely pave way for a transition back up into the NBA.