Pinson Preparing for Big Opportunity

A big opportunity awaits North Carolina wing Theo Pinson next season. But first he will have surgery to repair the foot injury that limited his freshman year.

Things didn’t go the way Theo Pinson planned during his first year at North Carolina.

He showed flashes of what made him a McDonald’s All-American and top 20 player in the class of 2014, before missing 14 of the Tar Heels’ final 19 games with a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot -- an injury he also sustained during his junior year of high school.

Pinson averaged 12.5 minutes, 2.8 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 24 games.

Through it all, his mother said, he maintained a positive attitude.

“Even though he wasn’t playing, Theo is the type of person to make the best out of any situation he’s in,” said Barbara Pinson. “He wanted to go to the Final Four and win a national championship. He really thought they had a team to do it. But he made the best out of a tough situation and tried to be there for his teammates in many ways.”

The 6-6 rising sophomore from Greensboro, N.C. will have to do the same during the majority of the summer.

Pinson is scheduled to have surgery on his foot in early May. His full rehab is expected to last around 12 weeks.

“He wanted to be a part of the ACC and NCAA tournament experience,” his mother explained. “He wanted to see how much of it healed on its own and then decide to have surgery or not. He wanted to wait until the off-season to have it done.”

If you watched UNC games while Pinson was out, you might not have known he was injured. Pinson’s energy and enthusiasm were noticeable after almost every UNC made basket or timeout.

“Theo has always been one of those guys, I don’t know if you noticed,” Barbara Pinson said with a laugh. "He’s fine as long as he isn’t losing. He doesn’t like to lose. He takes losing pretty hard. A lot of times, after a game, even we have to give him that time to get over it before we even talk about it.”

Separate from his intangible qualities, if the 2015-16 version of the Tar Heels are to reach their goals, Pinson will play a major part. J.P. Tokoto’s early declaration for professional basketball left Roy Williams’s team with only two true wing players on the roster.

The wing slot could be bolstered if Williams is able to secure a commitment from a remaining 2015 recruits, but regardless, more will be expected of Pinson. His time watching and not playing this past season could help him replace -- and possibly exceed -- Tokoto’s contributions.

“When you sit on the sideline you see things that you don’t necessarily see on the court,” said Barbara Pinson. “That’s what he tried to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the point guard, the '2' or the '5,' if he sees a way he can help, he’s going to let them know. That is going to help him next year. Despite the surgery, he’s real excited.”

For the Pinson family, it was a positive first year.

“He adapted and enjoyed the overall experience of college with classes, roommates, classmates and all that stuff,” Barbara Pinson said. “We got a chance to know the other families and the other guys. We’re looking forward to next year.”

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