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Theo Pinson Making Winning Plays for UNC

Theo Pinson is contributing energy, enthusiasm and game-changing plays to UNC's Tournament run.

At High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian, Theo Pinson always had the ball in his hands. He was its leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game.

At North Carolina, Brice Johnson handles the points and rebounds, Marcus Paige the assists and Joel Berry the steals.

Finding a new, unique way to contribute without the ball was a goal Roy Williams and Pinson set entering the season.

Now, 38 games and nearly 100 practices later, Pinson isn’t just contributing as Carolina’s utility man. He’s reveling in his new role.

“He’s now really getting comfortable with the system itself,” said his mother, Barbara Pinson. “He started to feel comfortable in late January and February and started to adapt to what he’s been asked to do.”

Basketball coaches often like to talk about “winning plays.”

Things that don’t show up in the stat book, but are vital to helping a team be victorious. It could be tipping a ball inbounds, forcing a turnover or diving for a loose ball.

During Carolina’s run to the Final Four, Pinson has made several winning plays.

His steal, followed by a timeout with UNC up one against Notre Dame is just one example, but it might have been the most important moment of the Tar Heels’ regional final win.

“Theo wants to win,” Barbara Pinson explained. “That’s all he really cares about. If it takes encouraging other people to get into a defensive stance, he’ll do it. That’s just the way he is.”

As important as his energy off the bench is for UNC during games, his enthusiastic demeanor has permeated UNC’s locker room.

“I mean, the easy way to describe it is just look,” Marcus Paige said last week. “You just watch him. Watch him be himself, he's just really energetic. He always brings positive energy. He's kind of the guy that you want to have in your locker room. No matter what the situation is, he makes it fun.”

In Houston this week, Pinson will have plenty of time to crash press conferences, defend his “home run bunt king” title and, generally, cause havoc wherever the Tar Heels go.

But don’t think of Pinson’s playfulness as a lack of intensity or focus on the court.

“I’ve grown to expect what he does out there, because that’s the only way he knows how to play,” Barbara Pinson explained. “You talk to people who have played with in the past and that’s just what he does. He plays with passion.”


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