Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Pinson's game will excite Tar Heels fans
By Reggie Rankin
The ESPN 60's No. 13 overall player Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) committed on Wednesday to North Carolina over Indiana, Duke, Louisville and Georgetown. He gives the Tar Heels a five-star small forward who is the state's best player in the Class of 2014 and second nationally at his position.
At 6-foot-6 and 190 pounds, Pinson's length and explosiveness are what make him a special wing player. He is a terrific playmaker with the ball in his hands. Expect that to continue and go to an even higher level when he puts on that Tar Heels uniform.
He brings excellent athleticism and the ability to get to the basket with a quick first step. He is a long, smooth slasher and a good straight-line driver. When he gets a step on his defender, he finishes above the rim with excellent touch and body control. Pinson also is a threat on the glass, especially offensively, and is a good and willing passer, but he will have to continue to add strength and build his ball skills.
ESPN 60 SF Theo Pinson will bring new excitement to North Carolina.
Pinson will provide excitement for Tar Heels fans on the fast break with his explosive athleticism. He will be tough to keep from getting to the rim when he receives an advance pass and sprints the outside lane in the well-known and flawlessly executed Carolina secondary break.
In the half-court set, coach Roy Williams will be able to set up Pinson for slashes and drives on the move. He can also gain an advantage coming off pin-down screens for curls in the lane and back screens for lob passes. Pinson will be able to create in half-court motion off the dribble and receive kickout and drop-off passes for high-percentage shots. He also will be a go-to guy in the box sets Williams likes to run out of timeouts -- the ones that opponents know are coming and still can't stop most of the time.
One improvement that has been very evident recently is Pinson's ability as a perimeter shooter. I witnessed that in January at the 2013 Brandon Jennings Invitational, where he made multiple 3-pointers off the catch. Pinson's release and follow-through were very good at that event, and he later credited his coach, former Maryland star Keith Gatlin, and spending extra time in the gym as the reasons for his rapid improvement. A slasher as quick and athletic as Pinson with a consistent jump shot is a difficult cover for most wing players.
Defensively, Pinson has the size, length and athletic ability to be a multiple-position defender. He should thrive in the Carolina pressure man defense, where he will be allowed to switch onto any of the three perimeter players. Pinson also will fit nicely in the half-court trap that has been a part of the Carolina system since the days of the great Dean Smith.
Pinson joins two other ESPN 60 performers in point guard Joel Berry, No. 12 overall, and fellow SF Justin Jackson, No. 14 overall. Those three give the Tar Heels a lethal backcourt that possesses great size, skill, athletic ability, scoring and overall great versatility.
The future of North Carolina already was extremely bright with Berry and Jackson committed, and now with in-state stud Pinson in the fold, Tar Heels fans are going to be thinking not only ACC championship but Final Four, as well.