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Caulton Tudor

Paige's play of late will spike NBA stock

Posted February 28

The UNC bench watches as Marcus Paige (5) fires a three pointer. NC State lost to UNC in overtime, 85-84, on February 26, 2014 at the PNC arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo by: Jerome Carpenter

With Marcus Paige having worked his way into ACC player of the year and all-America consideration, the next question now becomes does he stay or go?

The North Carolina point guard, a 6-1 sophomore, was on very few NBA prospects list when the season started.

Then, with P.J. Hairston off the team for good and Leslie McDonald out of the lineup for nine games, Paige spent so much time on the wing that NBA scouts had no more than a limited opportunity to judge his progress at the point.

All of that’s changed quickly. Paige’s stock is skyrocketing just as Oklahoma State’s Marcus man – Marcus Smart – perhaps has dipped as a result of a Feb. 8 confrontation with a Texas Tech fan.

Like most college players, Paige’s decision will depend to a large extent on what happens during the next month or so. For Carolina fans hoping that he and junior forward James Michael McAdoo both return for ’14-’15, there is the fact that the June 26 draft (7 p.m., Brooklyn) could be overstocked with playmakers.

Smart, a sophomore, is widely expected to declare for the draft. So are Kentucky freshman Andrew Harrison and Xavier soph Semaj Christon. Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis, like Paige, is generally viewed as undecided.

All five are solid first-round candidates. And two others – Louisiana Lafayette junior Ellie Payton and Missouri Jordan Clarkston – could be first-rounders.

ACC outlook will hinge on decisions

As usual, the ACC could lose a ton of talent in the draft – whether Paige enters or not.

Likely to leave are Duke freshman Jabari Parker and sophomore Rodney Hood, N.C. State sophomore T.J. Warren, Clemson junior K.J. McDaniels, Louisville sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell and McAdoo.

Among those who could be on the fence are Boston College sophomore Olivier Hanlan, Virginia sophomore Malcolm Brogdon, Syracuse sophomore Jerami Grant, Florida State sophomore Aaron Thomas and Wake Forest sophomore Devin Thomas.

Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant, a fourth-year player who was dismissed from school in December, has said he’s interested in returning if granted another season of eligibility. But either way, that process won’t even begin to play out until the start of summer school classes.

The league’s top four teams obviously could take the hardest in the unlikely event that almost all of the top underclassmen leave.

Virginia, who could clinch the regular-season race with a win over Syracuse on Saturday, already is losing senior leaders Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell.

Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim would face a major rebuilding task should Ennis and Grant join senior C.J. Fair in the exit line.
Duke stands to lose Hood, Parker and seniors Andre Dawkins and Tyler Thornton.

If Paige leaves, UNC would have to turn to Nate Britt, Luke Davis and/or recruit Joel Berry to run the offense. Replacing McAdoo inside would be a challenge, of course, but Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel James, Isaiah Hicks, Jackson Simmons and Desmond Hubert will give Roy Williams enviable depth.

Underclassmen who declare and then wish to withdraw their names must do so by 5 p.m. June 16.

25 Comments

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  • heelsforever Mar 1, 1:07 p.m.

    Paige consider in All-American discussion? Sounds like the local "lets get a Tar Heel to leave early" faction is working already.

  • JacobSummers out of retirement Feb 28, 9:02 p.m.

    We lost but it wasn't because of Thornton. Sulaimon was cold, Hood's early foul trouble, then... View More

    — Posted by 903 Hail Providence

    You forgot the part when Roy coached the breaks of K.

  • vt94hokies Feb 28, 5:22 p.m.

    Paige has greatly improved his game lately. He needs to become much stronger and hit the weight room. He would benefit by staying another year at UNC.

  • StunGunn Feb 28, 4:31 p.m.

    McAdoo's stock was much higher at the end of last season than it is now.

    — Posted by mxteam44

    McAdoo's stock was probably higher a month ago; he's proven to be inconsistent recently IMHO. The silver lining to his recent play is that he may consider coming back for his senior year. Whatever he decides, I wish him the best - he seems like a great young man.

  • StunGunn Feb 28, 4:28 p.m.

    I don't see Paige being anywhere near ready for the NBA. I think he's more of a four-year player as education is important to him as well as basketball.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 28, 4:24 p.m.

    Yeah that's true. Cook is better than that. He can play defense. He can scores, and penetrate. I don't know what his problem is. I noticed that he was sulking on the bench again va tech. He is better than that. If he keeps sulking he will stay there. Thornton should be backing him up. Thornton plays because K has no other choice with cook acting the way he is. Thornton was exposed against Unc. McDonald is too big, and Paige is quick. Probably a good kid but he and a lot of duke fans think he is better than what he is.

  • 903 Hail Providence Feb 28, 3:42 p.m.

    We lost but it wasn't because of Thornton. Sulaimon was cold, Hood's early foul trouble, then Parker's foul, trouble, then Amile's foul trouble. And if Paige couldn't be stopped it wasn't solely Thornton's responsibility to stop him. Cook had something to do with that too. Why do you think Coach K doesn't start Cook in the first place? It's because his defense is quite frankly awful. He has to start Thornton for that reason alone...what offense he gives up in playing Thornton over Cook he more than makes up for in his ability to defend and Cook's in-ability to defend...

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 28, 3:19 p.m.

    Noticed you said except the Unc game. Wasnt that the one you lost? Couldn't handle McDonald or Paige in that one. Cook had 17. In the dance you will need a point that can penetrate, dish, and finish not just jack up lucky 3's that sometimes fall in. Ennis had some wide open looks that didn't fall. It wasnt because of your defensive stopper. What happened when wells and smith last year? All I remember is him running to the bench because he was exposed! 2010 duke won it all with way less talent, but they had a heck of a point guard!

  • jdpridg Feb 28, 2:51 p.m.

    "So are Kentucky freshman Andrew Harrison"
    A little off topic... But for the longest time I've been a big UK fan. I simply hate what JC has done to that program.

  • jdpridg Feb 28, 2:48 p.m.

    Problem for McAdoo is that each year his stock seems to go down. He is digressing rather than progressing. He's not NBA ready now, but if current trends continue and he stays, he'll be playing in the Italian league. His freshman year, I was blown away by his potential. Now I see him occasionally step up and then just as quickly fade into the background.

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