North Carolina sophomore guard Marcus Paige is the unanimous choice as the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Player of the Week, while Duke forward Jabari Parker earned his third ACC Rookie of the Week honor of the young season.
Paige scored a combined 58 points in wins over Richmond and third-ranked Louisville as UNC won the Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament in Uncasville, Conn. The Marion, Iowa native established a career scoring high with 26 points in semifinals against Richmond, then broke that mark with 32 points in the championship game vs. Louisville.
Paige, who received the vote of every member of the ACC Player of the Week media panel, became the first Tar Heel with 25 points in consecutive games since Harrison Barnes in 2011. He combined to shoot of 15-of-25 from the floor, 9-of-14 from 3-point range and 19-of-20 from the free-throw line. Against Richmond, Paige broke a 56-all tie with a 3-pointers and added two more 3s in the final seven minutes to lead UNC to victory. Paige scored 17 first-half points and 15 in the second half against Louisville. His efforts helped North Carolina shoot better than 50 percent from the floor in both halves versus the defending national champion Cardinals.
Paige's numbers through five games are downright gaudy.
22.4 ppg, 53% FG, 53% 3P, 93% FT, 3.6 apg, 128.9 offensive efficiency, 35.6 mpg.
The only concern in any of those numbers is 35.6 minutes per game. Roy Williams doesn't like putting that kind of load on a player at this point in the season but there really isn't much choice. Paige is the best offensive options the Tar Heels have and there is only so long you can get away playing two of Nate Britt, Luke Davis or Wade Moody. That is why at the bare minimum UNC at least needs Leslie McDonald back so Paige doesn't spend as much time on the floor. Even then I have a feeling his playing time won't decrease that much on average.
Paige is off to a tremendous start and while these numbers will level off some, the sophomore has established himself as a legitimate scorer. It will be interesting to watch how Paige performs when defenses begin keying on him. When that happens he will look to distribute the ball some and the burden will be on his teammates to produce.