The senior from Marion, Iowa, is a double major in media and journalism/history. He is a two-time recipient of the Skip Prosser Award as the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top scholar-athlete for men’s basketball, and previously was a second-team Academic America in both 2014 and 2015.
Paige is the first Tar Heel to ever earn Academic All-America honors in three seasons. Tyler Zeller was a first-team selection in 2011 and 2012 and Tommy LaGarde was a first-team choice in 1976 and a second-teamer in 1975. Paige is just the third men’s basketball player in ACC history to be a three-time Academic All-America (Maryland’s Tom McMillen and Duke’s Mike Gminski were three-time first-team selections in 1972-74 and 1978-80, respectively).
“I was really excited (to find out) because the last two years I’ve been a second-team All-America and I really wanted to get on that first team,” says Paige. “To hear I finally got bumped up to first team my last year is pretty exciting. It was a goal the first time I made second team. I always wanted to be first team. Especially this year, closing out my career, I thought that was an appropriate goal and to reach it is pretty cool.
“I know my parents are going to be super proud. That will probably be their most satisfying accomplishment that I’ve had since I’ve been in school because they understand how important it is. I’m glad I could it for myself and especially do it for them.”
Paige is the ninth Tar Heel to earn first-team Academic All-America honors joining, Billy Cunningham (1965), Charles Scott (1970), Steve Previs (1972), Dennis Wuycik (1972), LaGarde (1976), Steve Hale (1986), Eric Montross (1994) and Zeller (2011, 2012).
The CoSIDA Academic All-America men’s basketball first team includes Paige, Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, Grand Canyon’s Joshua Braun, Nebraska’s Shavon Shields and College of Charleston’s Canyon Barry. Uthoff is the Academic All-America of the Year.
Paige is the only member of the 2016 Academic All-America teams who is being honored for the third time.
“Other than winning a national championship and ACC regular-season and Tournament titles, my number one goal this season was for Marcus to be a first-team Academic All-America,” says Carolina head coach Roy Williams. “I know how much this means to Marcus, his parents, our coaches and Marcus’s teammates and friends. He works so hard to be a complete person. You just can’t say enough about his character and the type of young man he aspires to be. He’s an individual that will leave a lasting impression on our university and our game in so many positive ways.”
Paige is the fifth player to play for Coach Williams to earn first-team Academic All-America honors: Jacque Vaughn (1996 and 1997 at Kansas), Jerod Haase (1997 at KU), Ryan Robertson (1999 at KU), Zeller (2011 and 2012) and Paige (2016).