CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Theo Pinson had successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, according to North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. A timetable for his return is not yet available.
"I have no idea how long Theo is going to be out," Williams told reporters at the ACC Operation Basketball media event on Wednesday. "I'm hopeful that we'll get him back, but that's all it is is hopeful, because I don't have any idea."
The junior wing suffered the injury during practice at Fort Bragg last Wednesday. Pinson told athletic trainer Doug Halverson his foot was sore that morning. After an initial check, a decision was made to practice that afternoon, according to Williams. Pinson was “really good” through the first two-thirds of practice before penetrating, making a move and then asking for help.
“He said his foot was hurting and he kept playing,” senior forward Isaiah Hicks said. “And then halfway through practice, that’s the day I had my concussion, he just came over and sat down. I asked him, ‘Are you good?’ and he said, ‘my foot hurts.’ It was as simple as that. Next thing you know we got the news.”
The injury continues a trend of foot problems that has plagued Pinson since his high school days. He fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot as a junior at High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian Academy in Sept. 2012, and then broke the same bone in a game at Wake Forest in Jan. 2015. Pinson was sidelined five months following surgery for the latter injury.
“His absence will be felt greatly because he was able to do so many things to make people feel good, to make people laugh, and he was a pretty doggone good basketball player,” Williams said. “And so now you miss that part of it.”
Pinson, who averaged 4.5 points per game and was third on the team in assists (115) in 2015-16, was expected to start at the two-guard spot alongside of Joel Berry.
“Theo brings a lot of energy for us,” Berry said. “That's one thing we're going to miss a lot. He's a great player. I know a lot of people see Theo in the social media and in the press conferences and stuff. And I know he's an outgoing guy, but I don't think everyone has gotten a chance to see him as a player. I know what Theo can do.”
Pinson’s leadership may be more valuable than his production, at least early in the season.
“If you come to one of our practices, you will probably hear Theo more than anybody,” Berry said. “He’ll still be on the sideline, but with him being out, I think myself, Justin [Jackson] and even the seniors, more guys will have to step up and be a little bit more vocal than usual.”
Williams indicated the players most likely to fill Pinson’s void are senior guard Nate Britt, sophomore wing Kenny Williams and freshman wing Brandon Robinson.
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