EYBL: Marcus Paige Spotlight

HAMPTON, Va. --- Marcus Paige tipped off his first AAU season as a North Carolina commit Friday night at the EYBL.

Paige was coming off an undefeated season at Linn-Mar High with a 4-A state title in Iowa. Thanks to a long bus ride and a banged up knee, Paige didn't look quite as good against the Charlotte Royals in Friday's opener, but was excited to start the next chapter in his career with his college path decided.

"It's nice to have it all out of the way and know that I'm going to a great program and know I have that decision taken care of," Paige said. "Now I can just relax and focus on winning and helping these guys out."

Battling an injured meniscus and bruised fibula suffered in qualifying action a couple weeks ago, Paige spent most of his first half shooting perimeter jumpers instead of attacking the rim.

"I might have lost a step for the time being but I try not to let it affect me. It kind of got to me today," Paige said. "Since it's my first game I figure I'll shake it out and just do whatever I can to help us out."

In the second half Paige started to attack the basket more consistently and relied less on his outside jumper. Paige said the more he moved, the more confident he became in how his leg would respond.

"Now that I know I can test it a little bit, I'll probably try to be a little more aggressive going to the basket," Paige said.

Since committing to North Carolina in January, Paige has been pretty busy. He said winning the state title with his teammates was a special experience for him.

"We traveled out of state a couple times and beat a couple really good teams," Paige said. "It was a great feeling to get that championship that I've been looking for the last couple of years. Not losing a game also felt pretty good."

Paige said he's also been working on his all around game since the end of the high school season. In addition to trying to get stronger and become a better leader, Paige is also trying to ease his transition to a slightly different style of play in college.

"Once I get healthy I'm really going to work on attacking in transition because that's something Carolina excels at," Paige said. "I want to work on that to be ready for college."

Outside of some occasional smack talk from opponents, Paige said being a Tar Heel commit hasn't changed much. He said he's learned to deal with the pressure that comes with his college choice and said he hopes to put on a good show for UNC fans visiting Hampton this weekend.

"Hopefully they'll see me make a couple shots," Paige joked. "Tonight that didn't really happen. They can just see a kid that leads his team and is a really vocal leader, distributes the ball well and is a floor general."

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