Marcus Paige excited to prove himself as NBA worthy

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CEDAR RAPIDS — There are no guarantees. Marcus Paige knows that.

Many still doubt the former Linn-Mar and University of North Carolina star, consider his chances of making it to the National Basketball Association a longshot. He’s not big enough, he’s not strong enough, he’s not a consistent enough shooter.

But Paige is ready to find out if he’s good enough.

“Am I nervous to start playing? Yes, I’m nervous,” he said Wednesday, during a question-and-answer session with fans on the Utah Jazz’s Facebook page. “But it’s all good nerves. I’m excited to be out here and have an opportunity like this, that a lot of people would love to have. I’m excited to get going.

“Just the fact that it’s a new chapter. I’ve been doing the same thing for four years at Carolina. Now moving out to the West, having a completely new experience is the most nerving thing. But I’m excited at the same time. It’s a new part of my life. Whatever challenges get thrown at me, I’m excited to try and handle them. We’ll see how it goes.”

The 6-foot-2 North Carolina graduate was selected by the Jazz last week in the second round of the NBA Draft, with the 55th-overall pick. He is one of seven point guards on Utah’s roster.

He’ll be part of the club’s NBA Summer League team, which begins play July 4, attempting to impress again. A solid individual workout with Utah was likely the reason he got drafted, after having so-so final two collegiate seasons for the Tar Heels.

Injuries were a factor.

“I didn’t shoot it great my senior year at Carolina, but I’ve proven myself in workouts. Proved that I’m a great shooter,” he said on Facebook. “I can shoot off the dribble, and I’m pretty good at ball-screen action. Hopefully I can bring that.

“Definitely my leadership, my ability to play point guard and just my competitive nature (are strengths). I’m never going to give in. I feel like I have those qualities a point guard needs to have to be successful.”

Paige answered questions about his favorite food, his prowess (or lack thereof) at video games and what the draft experience was like for him. He watched it on television with his girlfriend at his parents’ home in Marion.

“I was a 50-50 pick, so I was getting a little nervous. But it was a tremendous experience,” he said. “It’s something when you play basketball that you dream of all the time. Then to hear your name called and know that this is a big-time dream that you just accomplished, it’s a great feeling. It’s something me and my family will be able to remember for a long time.

“The Jazz liked me, so they picked me. I know nothing is going to be given. There are a lot of great guards on this team. But, you know, it’s a process. I’m ready to come in and work. Whatever happens, happens.”

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