Paige Set To Begin UNC Career

North Carolina assistant coach C.B. McGrath had a piece of advice for Marcus Paige when he suffered a stress fracture in April. Take a break.

After years of devoting every spare minute to basketball, Paige was told by his future coach to step away from the game for a few weeks and recharge his batteries after going under the knife.

The break was nice. Paige was able to let his whole body heal. His parents say he's refreshed. But after six weeks of rest, three weeks of rehabbing and his move to Chapel Hill coming up this week-- Paige is ready to get started.

"I'm just looking forward to the first time I get to do a college workout or the first time I get to lift weights in college," Paige said. "I just want to see what the jump is in the level of intensity. I've been here working out but I'm ready for the whole college workout thing -- just getting a chance to get to work."

For anyone worried Paige is rushing back -- don't be. He received a clean bill of health from doctors earlier in May and has been close to 100 percent during the last week or two of workouts.

"It's been good. I'm back to playing full pickup games and everything -- running and jumping," Paige said. "I haven't even noticed it really. Sometimes I forget I have (the screw) in there. I'm really happy with the way everything went. Hopefully it'll stay that way."

Aside from rehabbing, Paige has spent his final weeks in Iowa hanging out with family and friends. He graduated from Linn Mar High School on May 27 and said the ceremony was a little bittersweet.

"It was just kind of fun to see some people you're probably not going to see again in a long time -- or ever. That part was cool," Paige said. "That being said, I'm still excited about what I get to do in the future."

Paige leaves for Chapel Hill on June 14 and will move into an on-campus suite with fellow freshmen Joel James, Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto a few days later. He'll take two classes this summer, a post-WWII history class and public speaking class.

Making the transition to college will be exciting, Paige said, and he's looking forward to getting to know his new teammates and classmates at Carolina.

"I've always heard the people you meet is the most interesting and most fun part (of college) because you're going off into a whole other world where you don't know that many people," Paige said.

In addition to getting used to life in college, Paige will have plenty to keep him busy on the basketball court this summer. He said he intends to learn all he can from individual workouts and the legendary pickup games with former Tar Heels.

"I'm obviously looking forward to playing with the current guys I haven't played with," Paige said. "Then also the Raymond Feltons and Ty Lawsons of the world -- get a chance to play against guys who are physical and a lot bigger than me like them to get me ready for college."

Not surprisingly, the two players Paige mentioned helped influence his choice of jersey number at Carolina. Like so many great UNC point guards before him, Paige will wear the number five next year. He wore No. 15 during his high school career at Linn-Mar.

"Well, 15 was taken. P.J (Hairston) has 15 and I'm not about to take it from him," Paige explained. "But I think there's been some pretty good success with that number at Carolina in the past. Also, my sister wears No. 5 and I've always liked Jason Kidd so I thought dropping the ‘1' wouldn't be so bad."

While Paige is excited about summer basketball, he might not get the full Triangle summer hoops experience this year. Paige said he hasn't made a decision on whether he'll participate in the Greater N.C. Pro-Am, which has been a consistent stop for young Tar Heel players in recent years.

"I'm not sure if I'm going to do it. I don't really know," Paige said. "I haven't really talked to the other guys either about that. So, we'll just kind of see."

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