Paige Ready for the Spotlight

CHICAGO – North Carolina's sole 2012 McDonald's All-American – Marcus Paige – is gearing up to play in front of plenty of family, and a national TV audience, on Wednesday night at the United Center.

"It should be fun," Paige said. "Get up and down a little bit. My dad is from Chicago so I'll have a lot of family members here."

Thus far, the 6-foot UNC-bound point guard is enjoying the McDonald's festivities and preparing for the big game.

"They run a great event from the basketball to even going to the Ronald McDonald's House and visiting the kids and stuff," Paige said. "I've had a lot of fun so far. Obviously the basketball is my favorite part and you can really test yourself ability wise."

During the three practice sessions at the Attacks Athletics facility, Paige has matched up with West teammates, including Indiana signee Yogi Ferrell.

"It's been fun," he said of the match up. "He's a great player. We do some things similar and he's really quick so it's been good for me to defend somebody quick like that. We've gone at it. He's gotten me a couple of times and I've gotten him a couple of times."

Overall, Paige said he is pleased with his effort against the nation's top prospects.

"I think I've played well," he said. "I've been able to knock down some shots and orchestrate our offense a little bit. There are a lot of great scorers in this game and on our team. I've done a good job getting them the ball."

Paige said his goal for the event was to play with intensity throughout the event.

"Not really any specific goals, but I wanted to come out and make sure I stayed aggressive," he said. "There are times in events like this where I can be passive, but I want to make sure I play a little bit more aggressive and take an active role."

Prior to getting to Chicago, Paige was following North Carolina's run in the NCAA Tournament. He took the Elite Eight loss hard.

"That loss was a heart breaker," Paige said. "I felt like I was on the team, that's how upset I was when they lost to Kansas. I'm cool with a lot of their guys and I can't wait to get down and join them."

In a few months, Paige will head to Chapel Hill and begin classes. The first order of business is adding weight to his frame.

"After I get done with a couple of these events coming up, I'm going to start working out again," Paige said. "Mid-June when I get down to see Jonas [Sahratian], the strength coach, we are going to have a lot of fun getting me ready for my freshman year."

"They didn't give me a specific weight or anything, they just want me to get a little bit stronger to be able to take a little bit more contact in college," Paige added.

With Kendall Marshall's big year, there's a strong chance the talented lead guard will take his game to the NBA. That means Paige has to be ready to step in and handle the lead guard duties for Roy Williams early on.

"I'm ready," he said with confidence. "It's obviously a big transition. I feel like I can handle it and I'm ready to come in and make an impact. Assuming he does leave -- if he stays it'd be great to get to learn from him -- but at this point I'm definitely preparing for myself to play a more significant role."

Paige has made it clear that Roy Williams played a major part in his decision to go to North Carolina. But he also cited UNC's point guard play and the way the team uses the position as a reason for picking the Heels.

"He lets his point guards play," he said. "Obviously you saw in the NCAA tournament the significant role that they play in the offense and how important they are in running that break.

"They give their point guards a lot of freedom," Paige added. "I figured that'd be the best chance for me to showcase all of my abilities."

Paige is also excited to play with fellow incoming freshmen J.P. Tokoto, Joel James and Brice Johnson.

"I think we have a lot of good pieces," Paige said. "J.P. is obviously really athletic and has a lot of upside. Once he puts it all together he has a chance to be a really good player."

The McDonald's game will tip Wednesday at 9:30 ET on ESPN.

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