Marcus Paige one step closer to living his dream after NBA draft

Linn-Mar grad could be headed for Utah's D-League affiliate

  • Photo

CEDAR RAPIDS — Marcus Paige returned to Linn-Mar High School to speak with a bunch of wide-eyed youth basketball campers Wednesday. That’s just the kind of thing a young man like Paige does.

He’s classy, humble, never forgets his roots.

“He talked to them all,” Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson said. “And the one thing he told them was to always chase their dreams.”

Paige’s dream came a little closer to reality Thursday night when he was selected by the Brooklyn Nets in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft. It was announced a short time later the 55th-overall pick had been traded to the Utah Jazz.

Virtually every expert had the 6-foot-2 guard from North Carolina on the outside looking in when it came to the draft, but Paige and his family remained confident. He had individual workouts for 13 NBA teams, which apparently improved his stock.

About 10:15 p.m., he got “the call.”

“Marcus said ‘Dad, it’s going to be about the 40s,’” said Ellis Paige, Marcus’ father. “That made me a lot more comfortable.”

He didn’t remain overly comfortable for long. The Paige family thought the Chicago Bulls might take him 48th overall, but that didn’t materialize.

“It got nerveracking after that,” Ellis Paige said. “When he finally got that call ... it was just so awesome.”

Robertson was watching the draft on television, but admitted he had begun to nod off.

“I was kind of snoozing, and all of a sudden my wife starts screaming, ‘Chris, Chris!’,” Robertson said. “I just thought ‘Oh, my god.’ At the moment, I was just so proud. Now that I’ve had some time to really take it all in, it’s just amazing. Marcus worked so hard for this, did everything the right way. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Paige was a second-team All-American as a sophomore for Carolina, but an injury decreased his production as a junior, and he went through a shooting slump this past season as a senior. He still scored 1,844 career points for the Tar Heels, had 602 career assists and 203 steals.

He’s going to a Jazz team that has seven — yes, seven — point guards on its roster. The Salt Lake Tribune reported Friday the Jazz might make Paige a “draft-and-stash” player who agrees to a contract that will send him to the NBA Development League.

Utah’s NBDA affiliate is the Salt Lake City Stars.

“(Paige) could be willing to work with us on a variety of things moving forward,” Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Ellis Paige said he did not know if “draft-and-stash” was a probability, or even a possibility. He’s just very proud of his son.

Marcus Paige is the sixth player from the Metro area to be drafted by a NBA team. He is seeking to become the first to play in a regular-season NBA game.

He’s not afraid to chase his dream.

“It just didn’t seem fitting for Marcus not to get drafted,” Ellis Paige said, pointing out how many speculated Paige would turn pro after his stellar sophomore season. “I know this is his father talking, but I honestly believe he’s going to be a good point guard in the NBA. It’s like we’ve always said ‘It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.