CEDAR RAPIDS – You don’t need to have someone tell you who the North Carolina Tar Heels are, because you already know.
But sometimes the North Carolina Tar Heels need to have someone tell them about you. So it was for Linn-Mar’s Marcus Paige.
UNC was looking for a point guard for its 2012 recruiting class, something Coach Roy Williams casually mentioned to small forward commitment J.P. Tokoto a couple of years ago on the AAU summer circuit. The Wisconsin prep brought up Paige’s name.
“I told him ‘All right, I’ll look into him,’” Williams said.
Williams saw the smooth 6-foot lefty later that summer at an event in Orlando, Fla. It was love at first sight.
“I saw two things,” said Williams, in a phone interview with The Gazette/Iowa Prep Sports on Wednesday morning. “He was in control, and he could pass the basketball. And he could score, too.”
What else is there? UNC made a couple of visits to Linn-Mar to watch him workout, and Paige and his father, Ellis, visited the Chapel Hill campus last fall. A scholarship offer was made, and Paige accepted, signing his official letter of intent Wednesday.
“We’re excited,” Williams said. “He’s a wonderful kid from a wonderful family. A wonderful athlete. You like everything about him. When you watch Marcus, he’s a leader on the court, a coach on the court. He’s really good defensively.
“It all starts with mom and dad, and his older sister (Morgan). Marcus is just a wonderful kid, a fun kid to be around. I love everything about him. His character off the court is probably more impressive than his play on it.”
Williams said Paige reminds him of previous UNC point guards Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson, both of whom won national championships with the Tar Heels and are in the NBA (whenever it begins playing again). Considered a top-20 recruit nationally, Paige is the latest in a long line of Iowans Williams has successfully recruited at Kansas and North Carolina.
He did actually strikeout on one, when Sioux City East center Adam Woodbury picked Iowa over UNC earlier in the fall.
“It’s just one of those things,” Williams said. “I enjoy it there, the people are great. I know there’s a (push) to keep some of them there at home. We try to bring a good package to them. We explain to them that it’s not just about basketball, it’s also academics.
“We’ve gotten some good ones in Raef LaFrentz, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Harrison Barnes. I’m sure some people in Iowa want to put a roadblcok up, so they can’t let me in.”