UNC junior guard Marcus Paige continues to find his name on every conceivable preseason all-whatever team and major award watch list. The latest is for the AP All-American team where Paige was the top vote getter on the team.
The rest of the AP's preseason team has a little more experience: North Carolina junior point guard Marcus Paige, Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky, Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell and Wichita State junior point Fred VanVleet.
Paige was the leading vote getter, named on 58 ballots from the 65-member national media panel, two ahead of Harrell.
The 6-foot-1 Paige took a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore seasons, doubling his scoring average (to 17.5 points per game) while becoming one of the nation's best crunch-time players - once he gets going.
A notoriously slow-starter, he spent a good portion of last season pouring it on late: 31 of 35 points and the game-winner against North Carolina; 11 of 17 points in overtime against Davidson; 11 of 13 in the second half of a win at then-No. 1 Michigan State, 21 of 23 after halftime against Kentucky.
His goal this season is to do it for an entire game, not just the second half.
"Obviously, my teammates know I need to be more aggressive and assertive this year, and it kind of starts with me," Paige said. "So I'm really worried about what I need to do team wise and I feel the individual stuff that comes with it will take care of itself if I do that."
Paige was named preseason All-ACC and ACC Player of the Year last week at the league's media day and is one of three ACC players on this team. Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Louisville's Montrezl Harrell are the other two. Per UNC, Paige joins Antawn Jamison, Joe Forte, Raymond Felton, Tyler Hansbrough and Harrison Barnes as Tar Heels named to the AP's preseason All-America team.
The problem for Paige is a more balanced Tar Heel team may eat into his productivity. Paige shouldn't need to play 36 or minutes as much as he did last season. Assuming UNC gets solid production from other players, especially on the perimeter, Paige's numbers could see a small dip. Still, a lot of voting for these teams stay locked in on preseason expectations which means should Paige come close to being what predictors had in mind, he will get plenty of honors when March rolls around.