Kendall Marshall is the smartest North Carolina basketball player I have ever seen. (Full disclosure: I turned 26 this week, so savants like Phil Ford, Larry Brown, and George Karl were before my time). There may have been been better student-athletes (Tyler Zeller and Marcus Paige were Academic All-Americans) and there have been far more successful point guards at UNC (Berry, Lawson, and Felton have rings), but as far as basketball IQ, I'll make the case for Marshall over all of them.
But smarts can only get you so far: Athleticism has to carry you as well. As discussed in November, Marshall's NBA career came to an end when he retired from the G-League. Injuries and fitness problems dogged him ever since leaving Chapel Hill and the former lottery pick's playing days are now done.
Fortunately for all of us who love Carolina basketball, his road has taken him home. On Monday, Roy Williams spoke at length on his radio show about Marshall's recent return to Chapel Hill: "Kendall is a full time student at the university of North Carolina. He's working on his degree and taking five courses." A college degree opens a great many possibilities for a future profession (said my high school Guidance counselor this one time) and one of them is a College Basketball Coach.
Division I coaches are required to obtain their Bachelor's Degree and, according to Roy, that is very much on Marshall's mind: "He comes to practice every day and watches and sits there. He comes into the staff meetings when we grade film. He's there almost every day when we grade film...he wants to be a coach and he's going to be a great one."
Better make that six courses this semester. Williams said that of all the players he's coached at UNC, the three smartest were Bobby Fraser, Sean May, and Kendall. Both Frasor and May are now in coaching. Marshall doubtless will be as well before we know it. The only question is where. The Carolina coaching tree stretches far and wide: Jerod Haase and C.B. McGrath already coached Marshall during his time at UNC, Wes Miller, King Rice, and Scott Cherry all are the top man at Division I schools. Plenty of Tar Heels hold positions of power in the NBA and are familiar with K-Butter's basketball intellect.
Back in November, I wondered if (hoped that) Kendall Marshall might one day return to the UNC sideline. He's already returned to the film room; maybe the next step on his journey will be a short one.