Pistons draft prospect Paige still peppered about title game
Auburn Hills — After almost two months, Marcus Paige still isn’t over the shot.
But he’s turned the page.
Paige’s North Carolina squad lost to Villanova in the NCAA title game but Paige did all he could to keep the Tar Heels in it. His double-clutch 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left looked to send the game to overtime, before Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit the eventual game winner.
Paige, a 6-foot-2 point guard, had a workout with the Pistons Tuesday ahead of the NBA draft in June, looking to forge forward with his pro career.
And the question about “The Shot” and “The Game” came up — as it has almost daily since the championship game.
“I still haven’t forgotten it. I get asked about it every day and I think about it every day. It was a great experience, but it’s something I will never be able to forget,” Paige said. “(NBA teams) ask everything and they try to find out everything — not just how I felt about it, but what could have gone differently, how I responded, how we handled it in the media, what you would tell guys coming back.
“I handled it OK but it’s something I’ll never forget.”
It’s just part of the normal vetting that goes with working out and interviewing prospects, which began for the Pistons in earnest Tuesday with Paige, former Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell and Wichita State’s Ron Baker.
They also brought in a bevy of forwards, including Thomas Walkup (Stephen F. Austin), Derrick Jones (UNLV) and Tyler Harris (Auburn), a brother of current Pistons forward Tobias Harris.
The Pistons pick 18th in the first round and 49th overall in the second round. All of the prospects in that group appear to be second-round possibilities, but the Pistons’ main needs are backup point guard and backup power forward.
Paige played four years with the Tar Heels but wasn’t able to show much of his pick-and-roll game, which the Pistons covet and could make him an attractive option, if he’s able to flourish.
“I feel like I’m at my best when I’m in the pick-and-roll. Obviously at Carolina, we didn’t run a lot of pick-and-roll; we were more of a transition team who threw the ball inside and played more of a motion offense,” Paige said. “They want to see if I can match up with the physicality of the next level.
“I’m not the biggest guy so they want to see me be athletic, fight through screens and be able to defend my position well, despite being kind of slender. Those are the things I try to show. Any chance we do shooting drills, I try to separate myself by shooting the ball really well.”
The Pistons also interviewed several potential first-round candidates at the NBA draft combine this month. But if they opt to trade the first pick, they could look to keep any of the prospects from the second round, or as free agents for their summer league team.
Outlook for Ferrell
Besides Paige, Ferrell was the only other point guard among the invitees on Tuesday. The two also were four-year players at their respective colleges, which in some ways pushed them down in the draft pecking order.
Ferrell holds the career assists record at Indiana, but because of his lack of size — about 6 feet — and lack of quickness, he isn’t seen as a first-round prospect. But with four years of college game film, NBA teams have a good sense of what Ferrell could contribute.
“Teams want to see if you have intangibles or something another point guard doesn’t have and (whether) you do that thing well,” Ferrell said. “You have to find a way to impress them with your ability on the court.”
Tyler Harris, at 6-foot-10, relishes the chance the play with his brother, Tobias. It’s a long shot, but it could be a reprise of their prep days, when they were dominant together. Tyler is just looking for another opportunity.
“That would mean a lot. We work out great together and do everything together. On the court, it’s another unstoppable duo,” Tyler said. “We did it in high school and we won and we could do it again in the NBA.”
The Harris brothers played together at Half Hollow Hills in Dix Hills, New York.