Kendall Marshall is one of the greatest basketball players to come to the North Carolina Tar Heels since the departure of Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson.
Given the fact that there was only one season between their 2009 NCAA championship and this 2010-2011 season, that might not seem like much, but it is—especially since the 2009-2010 season didn't even earn Roy and the Tar Heels a bid to the Big Dance.
The freshman point guard is invaluable to Roy Williams at this point in the season, and it's for one reason: The kid can play basketball.
That's all it is; Kendall Marshall plays beautiful, unselfish, precision basketball.
Though he's not the most prolific scorer like Tyler Hansbrough was, or the fastest guy down the court like Ty Lawson was, Marshall makes up for it in the fact that he can control the Tar Heels' offense on the floor.
Even though he's only a freshman at UNC, Marshall sees the floor like he's been playing at the Smith Center his whole life. Watch him when he's taking the ball from the top of the key on a UNC possession; you'll see him looking—everyone does—but you won't see what he's seeing.
Marshall will see every player, both where they are and where they will be. This allows him to stay one step ahead of the Tar Heels' opponents and also allows him to create advantageous situations for his fellow teammates.
Despite the fact that Marshall wasn't a starter early in the season—Roy started Larry Drew over him at the beginning—he's developed into quite the team leader. He's vocal on the court and can rally every one of his teammates into a productive play. We saw it a lot on March 5 in the Tar Heels' rout of fourth ranked Duke, and we'll continue to see it into the future.
What really makes Kendall Marshall an asset to the Tar Heels is his ability to support his teammates.
Marshall leads the ACC in assists, averaging 5.4 per game, and is completely unselfish with the basketball.
On March 2, in the Tar Heels' tight 72-70 win over Florida State, Marshall made several NBA-grade passes—one of which was a 45-foot bounce-pass directly to the hands of sophomore John Henson, who made the shot from under the basket. His ability to know exactly who to get the ball to and when is what makes him a crucial supporting element to these Tar Heels.
Again, his shooting isn't the most impressive of statistics; he shoots just about 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three. He's much more valuable to the Heels on the perimeter—seeing his team and creating countless good looks.
But let's not discount the kid's shooting altogether.
The game against Duke, March 5, saw Marshall put up 15 points to accompany 11 assists—a double-double performance that we'll definitely see repeats of in the future. When it counts, Marshall can drive the ball to make the layup or hit the step-back three. Depending on where he's needed, Kendall Marshall can do it all.
In the years to come, with Roy Williams' direction, Kendall Marshall will certainly prove to be one of the best supporting players the Tar Heels have ever seen.
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