One on One with Theo Pinson

One of the top recruits in the country, Theo Pinson, spoke with TDD at the Carolina Challenge recently on a number of topics ranging from his rankings, to recruiting, to Team USA.

TDD: You're one of the top guys here at camp Theo as evidenced by the big-time match-ups they have lined up for you. Can you shed some light on what it feels like matching up against the other top players here ?

Theo Pinson: Since I've been ranked #1 before, I'm kinda used to it, but I'm also chasing it again to be honest. This is the only way you get better is by taking the challenge and playing other really good players, so I really like it.

You're ranked highly in your class. How do you deal with those kinds of expectations?

It's an honor, really. I was just thinking about, I always go back to my childhood and how I used to dream about being part of stuff like this and wishing I was regarded as the nation's number one player. Now I'm just working towards my goal of staying at that level.

Was being considered a number one recruit a goal that you had written down a while ago?

Everything that's been happening to me in a lot of ways is me achieving some of my goals. Even the Dave Telep Challenge, just watching it with my parents when I was middle school, seeing the highlights of it, it's cool knowing that I'm here and I'm a part of it and now. I'm considered one of the best here and everybody is chasing me, it's really an honor.

You've talked before about your friendship with guys such as John Wall and Rodney Purvis, and how you look up to them. They were considered top players at the Carolina Challenge….do you ever think about that common thread?

It's really surreal, but at the same time it's really humbling too. They worked so hard to get to where they are. As have I. I guess all the hard work has paid off in certain ways, but I still need to work a lot harder to get to where they are.

What kind of things were you working on during the high school season? It seems as though you've tightened up aspects of your game.

I've been working a lot on creative moves to go along with my jump-shot. That's the big thing, I'm always working on different ways to score the ball.

Do you watch any film to help you develop your game?

Yeah, one of my old coaches, he sent me a highlight tape of Michael Jordan and I was watching all the different moves he had and it was incredible. I never really watched him play before, but I was shocked. I mean how does he get that much separation? Now I'm watching him and other players in college, seeing what they do so I can add that to my game.

Who you watching in college this year?

Right now, the dude I really like is Dion Waiters from Syracuse. The way, how creative he is, he's just one of the best scorers in college, does so many different things.

What do you think of the fact that he's doing that as a bench guy? Is there a take-away from that?

The thing about him, he knows he's going to be in the game when it counts. When his number gets called, he just dominates, he takes over the game. He has so many moves, it's incredible.

Does Syracuse having a guard like Waiters and guards in the past that are similar to him, come off as a big selling point for you?

It is appealing to be honest. I look at that and I say to myself, 'that could be me too', but at the same time, every other school recruiting me can point to the same thing. 10. How do you feel about Syracuse coming to the ACC?

Man, it's going to make the ACC a whole lot stronger…even stronger than what it already is now. You got a whole bunch of teams that are getting stronger as the season went on, now it's just going to be even better.

I saw you had the opportunity to visit some schools during the season for games, including both Duke vs UNC games at each of the two schools; Can you share what it was like experiencing both games?

It's always been a dream, just being able to go both of those games, at both of those places, it's just, you have to be there to know about what the atmosphere is for those games. It's just straight up mind-boggling because you see all the passion that goes into it, you see how the fans at both places, just how much they care about their team and that game. I heard students say, as long as we beat UNC, or as long as we beat Duke, I'll be satisfied. It was crazy.

Did you do much direct contact with the students at either place?

No, not really. Like at Carolina, we sat kinda right in front of the students, and you could just hear them saying, we gotta beat Duke, no matter what. That was one thing that stood out to me and then at Duke, people were like, please beat Carolina, it was just crazy getting to experience each atmosphere.

What's it like from a players perspective to be recruited by the two teams who many consider to be the biggest rivalry in college basketball?

It's a joy, it really is. Just knowing that both those teams want me and knowing the caliber of coaches that Coach K and Coach Williams are, it's unexplainable.

How do you give each an honest evaluation considering you're at the center of a recruiting battle for the two rivals?

Honestly, it's just really hard. I really can't explain it, I'm just really enjoying it. I'm not really thinking about how I'm going to make my decision just yet, just enjoying it.

For some recruits postseason success is a big part of their decision. How does that factor in with you?

It's not, really. [For me] it's going to come down to what's better for me and what my family and I think is most important about where I'm going to go.

For you Theo, have you thought about what is a good fit for you in terms of the basketball?

I can play in any system,so it really doesn't matter. [I'm looking for] a family environment, and coaching is real big in my mind.

How so?

The coaches are being real specific with me about what my role would be at their school, but most of all, the coaches are just real with me.

Are you establishing a close connection with any of the coaches recruiting you? Either head coaches or assistants?

It's not just one coach that's like always like that, it's several of them. It's really equal with them because it's not just one coach who is there every time, you know ?

Every player that I talk to Theo always seems to have factors that are just really important to them, for some it's playing time, for some it's having friends at a school, for some it's a business decision, for you, can you shed some light on what you pay attention to that's most important?

When I go to college, my one goal, by far is to win a national championship.

Above anything else?

To me, if you win, you are going to get noticed and with winning a national championship, NBA teams are going to see that you did something to contribute to that team winning a national championship. That's a better opportunity for you to go the next level and even still, you'll always be able to say, 'I won a national championship'.

Player development is another big area that a lot of guys focus on in their decisions, is that something that's a big deal to you as well?

Yes, when I get to college, I want to come in and contribute to the team and do whatever I need to do to help the team win games. I want to have an offensive game in my repertoire that's real diverse. Dribbling, shooting, passing, defensive wise, defensive stopper, guard the best player if they need me to, I want to be a complete, well rounded player.

Since you're focused on fitting in, do you take into consideration the current and projected rosters of the schools?

I mean, it's hard to do that because all the teams have talent on their roster, so it's hard to look at it now because by the time I get there, some of those guys may be gone.

Playing with Team USA, you play with the cream of the crop from the high school ranks. Are there guys on that team you'd like to play with in college?

Honestly, I'd like to play with all those guys. We got along so well and we barely knew each other when we first got together on the team. When we got to Cancun, there was so much adversity we had to fight through and we did it together. On the court it was the same thing, like if it wasn't going well, we'd get in each other's faces to make sure that we played the right way and played together. Playing with some of those guys, they just made the game so easy for you.

Like who?

I really liked playing with guys like Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, everybody, I loved playing with all those guys.

Do any of those guys talk to you about recruiting? It seems like many of you are being recruited by some of the same programs.

A little bit. Like with Tyus, he texted me before the Duke game and he was like, tell me how the atmosphere was at the game and he wanted me to get back with him after the game and let him know how it was.

Tyus has kept a low profile in his recruitment from a media perspective, what is you're relationship with him like?

Really, we don't talk about basketball all that much to be honest, we talk more about what's going on with each other, how the season is going, stuff like that.

The twitter world got excited when both Jahlil and Tyus said that wherever the other guy goes, they want to play together. Is that something you say to guys or guys say to you?

They mostly say it to me, but for real, Jahlil's a monster. I don't know who wouldn't want to play with that dude, he's just fun off the court, on the court, he's focused and I like that about him.

You're going to be the veteran this year with Team USA since you've been playing with them for awhile now. Does that change your approach?

Yeah, that's going to be real cool if I make it again. I'm looking forward to going after a gold medal, winning that championship is the most important thing to me, hope I get to play.

Has Coach K spoken with you about Team USA since he coaches the Senior Team?

I went to a visit and we talked with Coach K for a while. He told me a lot about it, it's just way more a physical game, just a different level. To me, you just gotta listen to your coaches when you hear stuff like that from him.

Do those talks with him benefit you?

Of course they do. I mean, just being able to talk with Coach K, you're going to learn a lot because he's the best, you know? Just listening to him, you know you need to soak all that he's dropping to you in just because it can really help you.

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