Caulton Tudor

Paige's play of late will spike NBA stock

Posted February 28, 2014

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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  • rush Feb 28, 11:45 a.m.

    The real question will be, can UNC pay him enough to stay?

  • Warren G. is back again haters! Feb 28, 12:00 p.m.

    The real question will be, can UNC pay him enough to stay?

    — Posted by rush

    Haters gonna hate.

  • 903 Hail Providence Feb 28, 12:09 p.m.

    I know one of the New York teams is currently looking to upgrade their point guard...

  • danielleunc Feb 28, 12:21 p.m.

    Have there been rumors that McAdoo wants to leave? Absent those, I don't see what evidence there is that he is likely to go. He's projected as, what, like the 40th pick? He has passed on the draft in the past, and maybe-second-round doesn't exactly seem like a compelling reason to go, now.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 28, 12:25 p.m.

    903 maybe the Knicks will pick Tyler Thornton to fill their point guard role?

  • mxteam44 Feb 28, 12:30 p.m.

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

  • dooksucks001 Feb 28, 1:06 p.m.

    Paige does not have the NBA body yet to leave early.

  • dooksucks001 Feb 28, 1:07 p.m.

    The real question will be, can UNC pay him enough to stay?

    — Posted by rush

    Dook is the one who pays its players.

    Sad.

  • jmcdow2792 Feb 28, 1:09 p.m.

    I hate to see all these players leaving early. It certainly hurts college ball and in a lot of cases is not the right thing for the player. The money can't be that good for a player who goes and then doesn't make it.

  • 903 Hail Providence Feb 28, 1:34 p.m.

    The real question will be, can UNC pay him enough to stay?

    — Posted by rush

    Dook is the one who pays its players.

    Sad.

    — Posted by dooksucks001

    and yet it's UNC (not Duke) that had one player get suspended forever and another get suspended for a bunch of games this season...

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