Scott Phillips/Inside Carolina

UNC's Marcus Paige Working Toward Draft Spot

Paige expects UNC to be very good next season in his absence.

CHICAGO -- After a tremendous four-year career at North Carolina, Marcus Paige is excited to be taking the next step in his basketball career as he goes through the NBA Draft process.

Paige participated in the NBA Draft Combine last week in Chicago and also recently secured representation, so he's just starting to get the ball rolling on workouts and interviews with individual teams.

"I just signed with my agent right after graduation so all of that stuff will be set up the next couple days," Paige said at the Combine.

"I was working out in Chapel Hill through graduation. I just graduated this past weekend then I'll be going to New York to work out."

Paige signed with Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports Management. As for the interviews with teams, Paige has already started getting a feel for what teams want out of him at the next level.

"I've gotten some great feedback. Teams like the way I can shoot the ball. They want to see me get stronger, get a little bit better defensively. But that's stuff I can work on and stuff I have been working on in workouts and stuff," Paige said. "I'm just excited to go through the process. This is kind of the first step. Good to get your feet wet and get through the combine."

During the NBA Draft Combine, Paige had the benefit of having some former Carolina teammates with him as Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson were also in attendance and the three are keeping in touch throughout the process. Paige even had a chance to room with a familiar face in Chicago during the combine.

"I'm rooming with Brice. I don't know how that happened. As if I haven't lived with him enough," joked Paige, who roomed with Johnson during their Tar Heel careers. "We talk about [the draft process] all the time. Each of us are in different stages. You know, I'm trying to fight my way into a draft position and I don't have the option to go back to school. We're all in different stages but we stay in touch and talk about different teams and different interviews and stuff like that."

While Paige has been able to lean on teammates a little bit for advice during the combine process, he also had the benefit of having his former head coach, Roy Williams, in attendance at the Combine.

"It was cool to see him supporting all of us: Me, Justin and Brice," Paige said. "It's cool to know that he cares about us after we're done. It's pretty cool. He just told me to have fun, be yourself and enjoy the process. Because at the end of the day, that's going to get you the farthest."

Although the new NBA Draft rules won't change anything for Paige since he has already graduated, he was asked about his thoughts on changed early-entry rules and if he would have used it if he could have during his time in college.

"Yeah, I think after my sophomore year I would have tried it," Paige said. "The feedback you get is from the GMs, the owners, all the people that will be drafting you in the future. So to have that, you get to learn what you need to work on, what you need to improve on, you get to go through the process of interviewing and learning about that. So when you do decide to come out you're going to be a better prospect."

As for the future of North Carolina basketball, it will certainly feel odd in Chapel Hill without the four-year headliner for the start of the 2016-17 season, but Paige is confident that the Tar Heels will still be a very good team without him. Even though the Tar Heels lose Paige and Johnson, they return plenty for next season.

"(With) Justin back, they should be as good as any team," Paige said. "... Joel, Kennedy, Theo giving big minutes. You have Isaiah Hicks who had a great year. You add Justin to that and then that's your lineup and you can roll with that. I think they can be really good."

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