One on one with Theo Pinson

In-state 2014 standout small forward Theo Pinson has been on the Duke radar for quite a while, and has visited Durham more than a half dozen times. Recently, however, he's taken a step back from recruiting to evaluate things. This weekend he spoke to TDD about that and much more.

How do you feel after playing here at the Carolina Challenge?

Theo Pinson: It was good, but of course everybody was rusty. I felt a little rusty and everybody was a little bit nervous being we were new teammates for camp. Once the second half started in our first game this morning, everybody started playing better defense and guys started getting better shots on offense.

What did you think about matching up against Caleb Martin in your first game today?

He's a real good player, and it was a rough game for everybody. I'm sure he'll be shooting better as the day goes on just like everybody else will hopefully, I'm just glad he didn't do it against me.

You've been quite the traveling man during this season visiting schools it seems with Indiana and several other programs, what was your favorite game you saw?

It's a toss up between the Carolina/Duke games and the Indiana/Michigan game, those games were just real hype, tons of fans, great environments.

How much do those environments affect your consideration of the program?

That's just one of the things I'm looking for, that's what makes it a hard decision because all the schools have great fan-bases. That's part of what makes them good schools.

Can you share what you did off the court when you were visiting a place like Indiana?

Watched them practice at their shoot-around. Their shootaround was really intense, and then I hung around and chilled with some of the fellas and they got some rest. Then I chilled with the coaches for awhile, they showed me some film of me, then I went back to the hotel, got some rest and headed back for the game. Victor Oladipo was my host, he was a real funny dude.

What was the interactions like with Coach Crean; what did he emphasize?

The gist of it was that he told me I was a main priority for the program, he really wants me to come there, just him saying I'm a priority is big.

How big a deal is it for you that Indiana has had a coach at most of your games since that visit?

They are showing you they really want you by being at almost every one of your games, instead of just saying you are a priority, they are showing it by being there. I can say that when you are a younger you thought about that stuff, but now, they know you can play, so coaches want to see you win and when you do that, they'll want to come see you play, I hate losing, that's the big thing.

You visited North Carolina when they hosted Duke--was that your first real chance to see the inner workings of the UNC program?

My first time with that was when Tyus and Jahlil came and visited together with me, we got to see the program, saw the facilities and player dorms, going to that game was just getting to see the Duke Carolina rivalry again in person, it was crazy.

What was your thoughts on the Duke/UNC game at Cameron?

Yeah, I was at that game, it was crazy, same kind of atmosphere, both games were high intensity, even thought it was a blowout, fans were there and it was great to see.

How have the interactions been with Coach Williams and the staff at North Carolina?

Really, they are saying there's not a lot of offers at the wing position, but lately they've been saying that just because Justin Jackson committed, that doesn't mean that they don't want me. They are telling me we really want you here. They've just been preaching that to me.

Justin said in his commitment article that UNC is looking for 2 wings in your class--is the view now that it's first come/first serve for the remaining guys that North Carolina is recruiting on the wing from your perspective?

Yeah, that's pretty much what it is, but at the same you have to figure out what's best for yourself. North Carolina, they are losing a lot of wings, it'd be a good school to go to, but here's the thing, a whole lot of good schools are losing wings, so it's going to be a big decision ?

How big a consideration is it for you what a school's depth chart is looking like at the wing position--do you need to see a big need for wings in order to consider them or is it different?

That's one thing that I am thinking about, but I'm not sure yet. I really want to play with good players because I want to win a national championship. Right now it doesn't matter how many guys are there at the wing position, I'm going to pick the school that's the best fit for me, which includes which school can help me get better and help win a national championship. Those are the biggest considerations.

Where's things been with Duke's interest the last few months in your estimation?

Same as always, they are just really telling me that they really want me, they are saying they want me to stay home, be close to my family, play in front of a great fanbase, they know that I was a fan of Duke even before I started being recruited by them, so they are saying they want me to stay home.

How do feel about that pitch?

I mean, it's just a hard decision, there's so many great schools after me right now, it's going to be tough. I'm doing well with everything, before the next school year it'll be time for me to narrow it down, so you have to know what it's going to take to get into the schools academically that you are considering, getting all that weight off your shoulders.

Like, you saw Julius Randle, all that emotion in his decision, that's why I want everybody to know it's a a tough decision because it's hard to make sense because there's so many great schools recruiting you. It's not easy making this kind of decision.

What's helping you make sense of how you really feel about the programs?

Just the relationships, all my teachers tell me that God will give me a sign where I'm going to be comfortable and just to take my time and be comfortable with my decision. My dad is really letting me be, we talk once in awhile to see where my mind is at. the whole family is thinking about it of course because it's a big decision, life step.My parents will always support me, even if I go far away, they just want what's best for me.

Is there a plan in place timeframe wise when you are wrapping things up?

That's one thing we're talking about right now, just when I'm going to cut things down. See what number of schools I'm going to narrow it down to and it's possible that we might not even narrow it down at all before the decision, we'll see.

Are there other schools that under high consideration by you outside of Indiana, North Carolina and Duke?

Well, Kentucky has been recruiting me lately, they are getting back in really hard again. About last month it started again, they need some wings in my class and he's looking at which wings he really wants.

Which Kentucky coaches are you talking to?

I talked to Orlando and Coach Calipari came to see me two weeks ago, we talked and I also worked out in front of them. Coach Cal was telling me about the program, just about the stage you get to be on, that kind of stuff.

What's your thoughts on the big recruiting classes they do?

That's what you need to win a national championship I guess, I mean, they won one before, maybe they can do it again, we'll see.

How do you evaluate Kentucky who brings in big classes each year versus other schools who seem to stagger their classes more, blend in new guys with veterans on the team?

That's one thing I agree on with Coach Cal, he likes with me that I understand the purpose of a team and if you have a lot of guys on a team who are willing to do whatever it takes to win, then you'll have a national championship team. If you have a lot of selfish players who are just trying to get to the NBA, then you'll have a tough year. You get everybody on the same page with just being concerned not about how many points they score, but how many games they can win, that's a good thing.

You mentioned Kentucky was "coming on" again--had they recruited you previously?

Yeah, they had, it just wasn't as constant before as it is now.

How do you feel about that?

I don't feel any type of way, they hadn't been recruiting wings for awhile, they were really only recruiting one, Stanley, he told me they offered him because he was telling me they had gone to see Aaron Gordon so much and they saw Stanley and they really liked him, so they offered him. I understand that.

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