MARION — It turns out Marcus Paige is going to get an opportunity to come back home and play basketball after all.
The University of North Carolina senior guard and former Linn-Mar all-stater will take part in the ACC Barnstorming Tour that will make a unique stop outside the Tar Heel State. A group of senior players from the conference, including Paige, will play a team of local high-school seniors April 16 at Linn-Mar.
North Carolina had a game early in the season at Northern Iowa that Paige did not participate in because of a broken hand. Organizers of the 38th-annual Barnstorming Tour wanted to rectify that situation.
“Lenny Bias has played on this tour. Michael Jordan played ...,” said tour director Pet Sumner. “Now we come to Iowa. This is for Marcus’ homecoming. He didn’t get to play against UNI, so we thought we’d bring him back here. Let the home crowd see him. We’re really excited about it.”
Sumner’s father, Jack, began the ACC Barnstorming Tour as a way to salute and celebrate graduating players at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s four North Carolina schools: UNC, Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. This year’s tour is making 10 stops, nine in North Carolina and the one at Linn-Mar.
Sumner said Paige, North Carolina’s Brice Johnson (recently named a first-team all-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association) and Joel James, Duke’s Marshall Plumlee, Wake Forest’s Codi Miller-McIntyre and others will appear. Former North Carolina and NBA star Phil Ford will be head coach.
Linn-Mar Coach Chris Robertson is responsible for putting together the local all-star team.
“This year’s roster is unbelievable,” Sumner said. “You don’t get two players like Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige very often.”
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“It’s going to be unbelievable,” said Linn-Mar Co-Athletics Director Scott Mahmens. “The kid that Marcus was, what he did for Linn-Mar basketball ... There have been a lot of good players go through here, for sure, but I think the big thing was Marcus didn’t get to play against UNI, which was unfortunate for the people who went up to see him. Now with him coming back here, the Linn-Mar community and people in this area are going to want to come out and see these guys perform.”
Sumner said general-admission tickets for the event are $10 and available at Linn-Mar High School, Oak Ridge and Excelsior Middle Schools and the Fieldhouse bar and restaurant on First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids. They also are available online at www.carolinabarnstorming.com.
One hundred special VIP tickets also are available for $50. Those guarantee front-row seating and a postgame meal and meet and greet with the players.
Players will sign autographs for fans for 10 to 15 minutes after the game, Sumner said. There also will be a 3-point and slam dunk contest.
All proceeds from the event go to the Ronald McDonald House and Linn-Mar.
“This is something my dad started 38 years ago when he was in college,” Sumner said. “It’s such a fun time. It’s good for the community, really just an amazing event. The guys really get to show who they are. They’re just normal guys.”
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