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Brown transfer Paxson Wojcik returns to his UNC roots, looks to make immediate impact

UNC graduate guard Paxson Wojcik (8) dribbles the ball at the men’s basketball scrimmage versus St. Augustine’s on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023 in the Dean E. Smith Center. The Tar Heels won 117-53.

When he was a baby, Paxson Wojcik had a picture taken of him on the baseline of the Dean E. Smith Center wearing a Santa hat with a basketball between his legs. 

When he got the opportunity to play in the Dean Dome in 2021, as a guard for Brown, Wojcik recreated the picture — albeit with a Bears practice jersey on. 

In March, after the graduate guard entered the portal, Wojcik became the first player to transfer to UNC for the 2023-24 season. Now Wojcik gets the opportunity to take that picture from the other side as a Tar Heel.

“[It’s] pretty special seeing myself here when I was younger,” Wojcik said. “I didn’t even really remember, I was so young. And then being back here, it’s a full circle thing.”

Family ties

The Smith Center is familiar to the Wojcik family. Wojcik’s dad, Doug, was an assistant coach for the Tar Heels under Matt Doherty from 2000-2003. 

“It was an environment that Paxson certainly remembered,” Doug Wojcik said. “But at the same time I don’t know if he really remembered, you know what I mean? And how big the Smith Center is and how great the fans are, how nice the Carolina blue is.”

But when Paxson got his chance to play in the Smith Center for the first time, it wasn’t for the Tar Heels. As a junior at Brown two years ago, he posted 14 points in a seven-point loss to UNC. 

“It was such a close game and competitive game,” Paxson said. “It gets brought up a lot. It’s really funny now just being here and being in the locker room with RJ [Davis], Armando [Bacot], guys who I’ve played since high school.”

When recruiting through the transfer portal during the offseason, head coach Hubert Davis said the team looked for players they didn’t want to play against — and he found exactly what he was looking for in Paxson. 

‘Green light’

This season, Paxson will have the green light — a sign of respect in regards to one's decision-making and shooting ability within the UNC basketball program. Legendary UNC head coach Dean Smith, according to Davis, made players earn his trust before being given the green light, something Davis himself had to work towards while playing at North Carolina. 

Paxson's comfort from beyond the arc is something that the team was lacking last season. The Tar Heels shot just 31 percent from three in ACC play, placing them last in the conference.

“The three green light guys are RJ and Pax and Cormac [Ryan],” Davis said. “The reason why they’re green light guys is for a number of reasons, but one [is] they’ve earned it, they can make shots and number two is they take good shots.”

Last year, UNC had just one starter shoot above 36 percent from deep — senior point guard RJ Davis. 

Heading into the season, Wojcik will look to help UNC improve on this, particularly with spacing and shooting percentage. 

“If I was scouting myself, one of the first things I would mention is just my ability to shoot the ball,” he said. “That’s something that really gets me going, and a way I can hurt other teams is just by spacing the floor.”

‘Everyone knows him’

Off the court, Paxson has fit right in with the team — from surfing in the Outer Banks over the summer to team meals at Davis’ house to golf outings with graduate transfer guard Cormac Ryan. 

This aspect was new for Paxson, as Ivy League schools don’t have summer workouts, forcing players to practice on their own before official team practices begin in the fall. As a transfer, these summer workouts allowed him to better fit in and form relationships with his new teammates. 

“He really wanted to be here, and I mean just how he’s been in the community with everyone has been great,” graduate center Armando Bacot said. “Everyone knows him and he’s loved by everyone.” 

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As the season quickly approaches, Paxson is looking forward to that first game in a UNC jersey. 

“I think it’s gonna be another one of those special moments,” Paxson said. “I’m definitely gonna take a second to take it in — it’ll be hard not to smile.” 


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