Paige received 33 of 65 possible votes in the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year balloting, outdistancing Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell (16) and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (15).
The Marion, Iowa native earned second-team All-America and first-team All-ACC honors after leading UNC with 17.5 points per game. He ranked in the top-10 in the ACC in nine different statistical categories, including free throw percentage (87.7; 1st), 3-point field goal percentage (38.9; 3rd) and assists (4.2; 5th).
Paige missed the player interview portion of the ACC media event Wednesday morning due to a political science exam, but hurried down to the Westin Hotel after lunch to partake in the preseason festivities.
He arrived to learn of his selection as the league’s preseason player of the year.
“I hope that means it can translate into some wins,” Paige said.
Leave it to Paige to turn a question about an individual accolade into a platform for how UNC has loftier goals than second place in the ACC, which is where his team was picked by the media.
The various awards are appreciated, but that’s not why Paige returned to school for his junior season. He wasted little time in announcing his decision to play another year in Carolina blue last spring, highlighting the desire to be more successful in March and April and to potentially hang a banner in the Smith Center rafters.
Paige acknowledged the difficulty in staying in the present without daydreaming too much about tournament time in March.
“It’s hard not to think about the potential of the team, especially because we’re a team that hasn’t accomplished things that a typical North Carolina group of players have accomplished,” Paige said. “So we’re just really hungry for that and it’s hard not to think about what could be if we keep working.”
Roy Williams described Paige as a complete player earlier in the day, praising his leadership, defensive prowess and scoring ability.
“Nobody’s perfect, but he’s darn near perfect,” Williams said.
Williams, who has coached hundreds of players during his 26 years as a head coach, opined that Paige ranks in either the top-5 or top-10 of players he's encountered with the best basketball IQ.
May as well add that tidbit to Paige’s long list of accolades.
Paige Tabbed ACC Preseason POY
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