NBPA: Marcus Paige Q&A

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- You asked, and Marcus Paige answered. InsideCarolina.com readers submitted questions for the future Tar Heel point guard and he took a break from the NBPA Top 100 Camp to respond.

Is there anyone in the class of 2012 you've been trying to convince to come to Carolina?

"I've been talking to Kaleb Tarczewski a lot lately. We know we need big guys. He's pretty high on Carolina and I hope we have a pretty good shot with him. He'd be a nice fit with our class."

It can be hard to balance recruiting someone and still being their friend. How do you approach that?

"You don't want to annoy them about it so you just kind of drop stuff in here and there, let them know you want to play with them and stuff. It's not too hard to balance but you have to be careful to not bug the guy too much about it because it is his decision."

What do you like about Tarczewski's game?

"He's pretty mobile for a seven footer. He runs the floor hard and he can finish with both hands. He's just kind of a complete post. He also has a really high ceiling, so I think he has a lot of room to improve even though he's already one of the best guys around."

Is it nice to have a big man who can run the floor well?

"Yeah, it makes my life easier plus he can come out and set ball screens and he can finish off any kind of pass that you give him. That's definitely a nice thing to have."

How much do you pay attention to Internet coverage?

"A lot of guys pay a lot of attention to it but I'm not really big into it. Since I'm committed I don't have to really give people school lists and stuff anymore. So it's a little easier on me but it does factor in with a lot of guys' games and how they play. They might take a shot or try to force something. But it doesn't really affect me much."

Do you check the rankings at all?

"I check them when they get updated and stuff to see, first of all, where they think I am and then to know some of the other guys' names so when I go out there I can see who this guy is or who that guy is. Just try to become friends with them. Then if there's someone who's ahead of me I need to go at, I look at that, too. … But it's nothing too serious."

Do you view the rankings as a motivating factor at all?

"Yeah it is a little bit. Some guys say they don't pay attention to it but I find that hard to believe. I mean, everyone kind of checks it. When you see someone that you know you can outplay ahead of you, it's definitely motivation."

Who's the toughest player you've had to guard this summer?

"I'd say me and Yogi Ferrell match up pretty well against each other. We got to play against each other at Spiece earlier in the spring and it was pretty even. Our team ended up beating them -- in overtime actually. And then we just played yesterday on Court 3. Neither one of us played particularly well but we both match up with each other well."

Roy Williams has gone into Iowa and gotten commitments from you, Harrison Barnes, Kirk Hinrich, Raef LaFrentz and Nick Collison. Have locals banned him from Iowa yet?

"I don't think he's liked very much by Iowa fans. But he's been able to come in and get guys like Hinrich and Collison and Harrison obviously. ... I don't know, for some reason he's had good success recruiting in Iowa. Hopefully I can continue that and make an impact while I'm there."

Carolina won a title in 2009 then had an off year in 2010 and rebounded with an Elite Eight last season. How is the program as a whole viewed on the circuit?

"They're definitely one of the elites. There are certain schools like Carolina, Duke and Kentucky that everyone always has a pretty high viewing of. They're one of those schools that can jump in late on a guy and still get him and stuff like that. They're definitely viewed as one of the top tier schools by the elite guys."

Does committing to Carolina make other people view you a little differently?

"Yeah, it puts a target on your back, which is good because then you're getting everyone's best shot. You're going to get that in college so you might as well start getting that on the AAU circuit against the other top guys. It's definitely something people take note of."

Was Carolina ever recruited against negatively?

"It really came down to Carolina and Kansas for me. Neither coach really said anything bad about the other. It was just kind of a best feel thing."

Having gone through the recruiting process, is there anything you wish the NCAA would make a rule about?

"They're so strict on when (coaches) can contact (players) and how (coaches) can contact (players). Sometimes it's hard to develop relationships with the guys. I think they have some pretty strict rules so it makes it tough sometimes. But they also have to govern it pretty tightly because of how some coaches take advantage of that if it's too open. It's all right. It works, I guess."

Do you ever see shady stuff happen?

"You kind of see it sometimes but you don't really think anything of it. It definitely happens. I'm just worried about making sure I do everything the right way."

When did Carolina first enter your mind as a potential destination?

"I've always been a fan. Ever since I was a kid, I was a Carolina fan. Last summer, when they were talking to J.P. (Tokoto), they said they needed a point guard and they asked if there was anyone in particular that he liked playing with and he's like ‘Well, I played with Marcus Paige at the Hoop Jamboree and I liked playing with him.' That's when it kind of picked up. They watched me a couple times in July and I started realizing it was a possibility and I was pretty excited about that."

Did you always think you'd play at an elite-level college?

"That was always my goal. It didn't really hit me until my first scholarship offer (which I got when) I was heading from eighth grade into high school. It was (Northern Iowa) and Iowa State. So I was like ‘If I really work at this, I can play at the highest level in college.' So it started to hit me then. And when the Kansases showed up, it really started to hit me."

What's it like to get a scholarship offer as a rising ninth grader?

"It was different. I was surprised. But I guess the coach had that much confidence in me improving as time goes along. I probably wouldn't do that if I was a coach."

Was that a big confidence builder for you?

"It was a little bit of a confidence builder. It was one of those things where you realize, ‘This is good for me now but if I keep working, I can do big things.' So it was one of those motivational things."

So you never considered committing as a rising ninth grader?

"No, I was like ‘I don't even know what I'm doing right now. I'm going to have to wait this one out.'"

Is there a moment you can pinpoint when you realized you wanted to go to Carolina?

"I took my visit in December for the Long Beach State game because it was the only time I could get up there. And it really just felt like home. Everyone down there was really respectful and nice. It was kind of just a family feel. A lot of people talk about that at Carolina. After that, a couple weeks later, I just kind of knew. Then obviously I just waited a little bit and then made my decision."

So when you left the visit, you still weren't sure?

"They were definitely at the top. I was still kind of back and forth between them and Kansas. Kind of weighing what each had but I kind of knew at that point."

This year's team seems like it has such a good time together. Is that something you noticed when you visited?

"When I was down there I got to eat lunch with Kendall, John Henson and Harrison, I believe. They all get along so well. They're like boys, and that translates to the court, too, obviously. They had a great year, especially when the point guard switch happened. That family feeling is something I have with my high school teammates now and it would be nice to have when I get to college. Those guys are good kids. They're kind of like I am."

Are you trying to build a relationship with your future teammates already?

"Yeah, I talk to a couple of the college guys every once in a while. They're busy during the season and stuff but recently I've been talking to them a little bit. I've been talking to J.P. a lot because we've known each other for a while. I'll definitely try to be good friends with the guys because I think it'll definitely help down the road."

Did any one aspect of your visit stand out?

"Just the way the players acted. They're really similar to the way I am. They're just good kids. They like to have fun. They don't have attitudes. … They're just good kids and that really made me feel at home when I was there."

Do you have any personal goals for your time at UNC? What do you want to accomplish?

"I want to win. I've always been a winner. That's the main thing. I want to be able to help the team win -- get to a Final Four, get to a national championship. That's probably the main thing."

Aside from basketball, what are you most looking forward to about coming to Carolina?

"Just hanging out with my teammates. And the campus there is pretty awesome. The weather is a lot better than it is in Iowa. Probably just hanging out and being able to have a nice warm place to have my college (career)."

What's your relationship like with Kendall Marshall?

"I just recently started texting and Twittering him a little bit more. I'm trying to get to know him a little bit better because I feel like if he's there when I'm there my first year, he'll be able to teach me a lot. He's obviously taken control of the offense and done a great job. So I feel like I can learn a lot from him."

Kendall seems to think the game well. Do you think you can learn more from a point guard who is successful because of his head rather than just his athleticism?

"His basketball I.Q. and his understanding of his personnel that he has is incredible. A guy like that you can learn a lot from. … He's got a great basketball mind and I feel if I can pick that apart a little bit, it'll help me as a person, too."

What do you feel like your biggest basketball weaknesses are right now?

"Probably just my strength. I've got to get a little stronger and more explosive. Then other than that, just keep working on finishing in traffic with the big guys and everything. But definitely my physical strength."

Have you learned to love the weight room yet?

"Yeah, it's tough. Especially with some of the busy summer schedules. It's hard to find a consistent time to get in the weight room. But I'm definitely trying to bulk up a little bit before I get down there. Then obviously the weight program down there is going to help me out."

You guys play so much during the summer, does it wear on your body to the point where it's hard to get in the weight room?

"Yeah, at this time of the summer it does make it difficult because you're always traveling and then you're playing a whole bunch and you're traveling again. It takes a lot out of you. But this fall I should have a lot of time where I can really just focus on getting stronger and working on my body."

How often would you say you get to lift now?

"When I'm home it's like four times a week, but I'm not home very often at this point. It's whenever I can get in there."

Is there any former Carolina player you think your game matches up with?

"That's tough. I don't really think I'm a carbon copy of any of those guys. Lawson had the blazing speed and Felton was just a lot more physical than I am. He's just kind of a tough kid. There are some similarities between me and Kendall with the way we distribute the ball but also my game is a little bit different. I look to shoot a lot of jumpshots. That's something he doesn't really look for first. I don't really think there's a good comparison at this point."

Were there any Carolina player you looked up to when you were a kid?

"I was a huge Vince Carter fan growing up. By far my favorite NBA player, favorite college player. I loved Vince Carter. He was kind of my guy growing up."

What number do you want to wear at UNC?

"Well, I've always been No. 15 but you know P.J. (Hairston) beat me (to it). So I'm still thinking about what number I'm going to wear. No. 3 is a possibility but I don't know yet."

Who is your biggest influence off the court?

"Probably my parents just because they keep me grounded and they're the ones who keep me humble and hard working and everything. I learned a lot from them."

You were injured at the Boo Williams event in April and struggled with your explosiveness. You've looked much better since. How much better do you feel now?

"At Boo I was not very good. My knee was bothering me. I did not have a good weekend. I couldn't really move. Then I got it back in Dallas and then I sprained my ankle. So I'm still dealing with a little ankle pain. So I don't have a chance to get any dunks or anything like that. I definitely feel better than I did at Boo Williams. I've been playing a lot better."

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