CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Theo Pinson factors heavily into North Carolina’s backcourt plans for 2015-16. Before that, however, the sophomore wing will have to be fully cleared to practice following his offseason foot surgery.
“Theo has not done one fullcourt drill yet,” UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters on Monday. “He didn’t play a pickup game all summer. We’ve restricted him to halfcourt stuff the first six practices and gave him one of them off completely. We’re still trying to be very cautious with what we’re doing.”
Pinson (2.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg in ’14-15) fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in Tar Heels’ win at Wake Forest on Jan. 21. He previously broke the same bone as a junior at High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian Academy in Sept. 2012.
The Greensboro, N.C. missed UNC’s next 10 games before returning to the court in a limited role, playing in five of the final nine games. Instead of allowing the fracture to heal on its own, the training staff elected to have surgery on May 4 for a bone graft and to replace a screw initially inserted in 2012.
Pinson said that he has not experienced any setbacks during his recovery process.
“Last week I got back into the flow of practice,” Pinson said. “I only did halfcourt stuff. This week I start doing a little bit more fullcourt things, so this week I really start revving it up. I’m ready to go. Things have been going good so far.”
Pinson displayed no signs of a lingering injury during UNC’s open practice on Monday afternoon as he participated in multiple fullcourt drills and showcased his athleticism with various dunks and moves.
The tentative schedule, according to Williams, is for Pinson to be fully released after the first three weeks of practice. UNC opened practice on Oct. 2.
Pinson is expected to compete for J.P. Tokoto’s vacated starting spot on the perimeter alongside point guard Marcus Paige and wing Justin Jackson. Point guards Nate Britt and Joel Berry, along with freshman shooting guard Kenny Williams, are other potential options to work into the starting lineup.
“There’s no question that we need to get Theo back out there,” Williams said.