Paige's play of late will spike NBA stock
Posted February 28
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.