NCB On The Trail: Theo Pinson

video
The Jordan Brand Classic features the best talent high school basketball has to offer. Here are some of the most intriguing potential matchups in this terrific annual event, which airs Friday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Tyus Jones (Duke) vs. Tyler Ulis (Kentucky)

This matchup will be the battle for who can get the most assists. Both are terrific pass-first point guards who can play fast or slow. They can make open shots in order to keep the defense honest, and their decision-making on the offensive end of the floor is excellent, as well. Ulis can apply more heat on the ball defensively, while Jones is stronger and the better finisher in heavy traffic. It will be interesting to see who makes the fewest mistakes with the ball and who will win the assist category as Jones and Ulis push each other on both ends of the floor.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the 17th annual Nike Hoop Summit on Saturday, the USA team defeated the World team 84-73 for the first USA win since 2011. The USA squad featured a balanced attack as four players scored in double figures: Justise Winslow (Duke signee) led the USA team with 16 points, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Kelly Oubre (Kansas) each scored 14 points and Tyus Jones (Duke) added 13.

Let's take a look at what we learned from this year's Hoop Summit.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
Scouting the country each year I’ll not only see players’ skills, athletic ability and basketball IQ, but I’ll also witness their character along the way. This year’s class might not have any NBA superstars at the moment, but it will have difference-makers for the college game, both in the short term as well as those who will make a difference in time because of their character traits combined with their talent.

As we wrap up the Class of 2014, here are my five final thoughts:

1. The land of the giants

[+] EnlargeJahlil Okafor
AP Photo/The Sun News/Charles SlateDuke center signee Jahlil Okafor finishes the season as the nation's top prospect.
When you look at the top of a class it's so rare to have three post players sitting in the top three spots. Jahlil Okafor, who held the top spot for much of the season, finishes the season as the nation’s top prospect. The center from Chicago is a dominating presence in the paint. A Duke signee, Okafor led his high school team to a 4A state championship and was named the McDonalds Morgan Wooten player of the year.

He is special because he scores down low in the paint with his back to the basket. His combination of size, touch and fluid footwork is too much for one defender and when he doesn’t score, he attracts a double-team, which gives his team an advantage. He operates with patience and poise and when he reads the double-team he will accurately pass out to the open man. Defensively he guards the post and is improving at ball-screen defense as he is a barrier to the rim for his team.

Myles Turner, the nation’s No. 2 prospect, challenged hard for the No. 1 position and shows a big upside. Turner, who is uncommitted, is an elite shot-blocker and scores baskets with a soft touch and range. Cliff Alexander is going to be an absolute difference-maker for Kansas with his ability to rebound, finish and block shots, and he does it in an aggressive manner. Trey Lyles is one of the most skilled post players in this group and his future teammate at Kentucky Karl Towns Jr. has franchise skill-to-size ratio. Thomas Welsh is a fundamentally sound big who will anchor the middle at UCLA.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
CHICAGO -- Wednesday marked the 37th Annual McDonald's All-American game featuring the top high school boys basketball players in the country. The game took place at the United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

Best low-post player: Jahlil Okafor


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
CHICAGO -- The prestigious McDonald's All American Game annually brings together the best talent in high school basketball, all on one stage. Here are a few game matchups to watch for this year's star-studded event, which can be seen live on ESPN Wednesday night at 9:30 ET.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Roundtable: 2014 defensive standouts 

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
10:00
AM ET
There are a lot of different ways to win in college basketball, but one of the few staples of virtually all good teams is a commitment to defense.

Ironically, good individual defenders never seem to get the credit they deserve, and that can even be true with the recruiting process. Standouts on offense are not only easier to recognize, they’re also easier to quantify with basic statistics. There’s also a popular sentiment among college coaches that they can teach a player to defend if they have the proper physical tools.

The reality though is that college-ready defenders are perhaps even harder to find than college-ready scorers or playmakers, which should in turn make them that much more valuable. With that in mind, we went back to our team of RecruitingNation experts and asked them to pinpoint the defensive game-changers in this year’s ESPN 100:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

When a player's ranking changes, there is usually much more than one factor that goes into the decision. Rankings are one type of measuring stick of where a player is today and where he could go from here. If you look even closer, both Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) and Kelly Oubre (Richmond, Texas/Findlay College Prep) have five stars and a grade of 96 on a scale in which 100 is the max.

First of all, to move up in such tight quarters such as the top 25, it takes a lot of work. Pinson, a North Carolina signee, has had strong performances along with a high level of production. And, of course, he has terrific upside. We gave him high marks in all these areas. His versatility, super athletic ability and improved jumper are what stands out about his game, and the 6-foot-6, 190-pound prospect is competitive and extremely productive. That’s the reason for the bump in the rankings.

He has plenty of work to do, just like any other player. In fact, we want to see him handle the ball better under pressure and not turn his back to the defense. Also, he needs to work on driving and finishing with his left (weak) hand.

Pinson's move up was all about his outstanding fall and high school season to date. He jumped from No. 13 to No. 10 on our board and along the way jumped over a few outstanding players, including No. 11 Oubre. The Kansas signee is outstanding, with a an extremely bright future. With a strong second half of the season, the 6-7, 190-pound Oubre could jump right back into the top 10. It's never an easy group to crack, as everyone is elite, and it usually comes down to who demonstrates the traits of determination, focus, high energy, multiple efforts, unselfishness, coachability and being a great teammate.

Talent is never enough, but when you do possesses the ability, it's important for a prospect to dominate the games on a consistent basis and try to do everything to help their team win. Who they play with and who they play against is also factored into the equation. Appreciate the question!

2014 ESPN 100: 10 things to know 

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
11:00
AM ET
video
Here are 10 things to know about the updated 2014 ESPN 100 player rankings.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
The McDonald's All American Game is annually the nation's most prestigious high school basketball all-star event. The rosters have been announced for the Class of 2014, and this year's game will once again be played at the United Center in Chicago and will air live on ESPN on April 2.

Here's a deeper look at five exciting matchups we'll see in the 2014 contest.

1. The battle of the giants
Jahlil Okafor (West) vs. Myles Turner (East)


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The third and final day of national competition at the Spalding Hoophall Classic brought a fitting end to what was another first class event from the Basketball Hall of Fame and Springfield College. Here’s a look at the top performers during Monday’s five-game slate:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



UNC has a few problems this year, but so does just about every other team in college basketball. Remember, it's only January.

The Tar Heels are struggling making outside shots, 3-point shots in particular as they are shooting just 30 percent from behind the arc, as well as free throws (61 percent). None of the three players in the Tar Heels’ 2014 class -- Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry -- are knockdown shooters, although Berry and Jackson are capable of hitting shots and being consistent shooters beyond the arc over time. All three are fairly good free-throw shooters, so that should help the FT percentage immediately.

The Tar Heels had early season distractions with whether or not P.J Hairston and Leslie McDonald would be eligible this season due to off-the-court issues. They lost Hairston, who was one of the better 3-point shooters in the country, and McDonald has only been average shooting the ball.

UNC’s recruiting class, which is ranked No. 4 in the country, will make a big difference next year because this is a special group. They not only bring talent, but also bring the traits that help you win. They are focused on working and winning and they all put a high value on team play over their own accolades.

Berry will bring a toughness and leadership with the ability to finish at the rim and make open shots. Jackson will put points on the board with his offensive prowess and Pinson will help on the defensive end with his super athletic ability. With everyone likely returning except McDonald, UNC will be very deep, talented and more experienced next season.

Roundtable: Spalding Hoophall Classic 

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
12:00
PM ET
Held each year during the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, the Spalding Hoophall Classic annually is one of the best high school basketball events of the year. Many of the nation’s top teams and individual prospects are converging on the birthplace of basketball in Springfield, Mass.

ESPN will again have wide-ranging coverage, with daily recaps and analysis from our Recruiting Nation team. Four games will be televised live Monday on ESPNU.

With such a wide variety of intriguing storylines set to play out in the next five days, here’s a look at what our experts are most looking forward to this weekend:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Under Armour Showcase recap 

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
8:46
PM ET
Charlotte, NC -- Phillip O. Berry High School was the site of the first annual Under Armour High School Showcase. This event featured some of the nation’s finest programs and highly ranked players representing multiple graduating classes.

Here are a few players that turned in impressive performances.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Under Armour Holiday Classic recap 

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
2:05
PM ET
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- After a down year in 2012 in terms of talent, the 2013 Under Armour Holiday Classic featured a tournament loaded with individual talent and quality teams.

Savvy veterans like North Carolina-bound Theo Pinson (High Point, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) and Arizona-bound Parker Jackson-Cartwright (Los Angeles, Calif./Loyola) had their way with the competition, while up-and-comers Lonzo Ball (Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills) and Bryce Aiken (Elizabeth, N.J./The Patrick School) exhibited glimpses of what the future beholds.

Best All-Around
Theo Pinson (High Point, NC/Wesleyn Christian Academy)
2014, SF, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds
Status: Signed with North Carolina

With his athleticism, length and improved perimeter skill set, Pinson pretty much did whatever he wanted against the competition. He was electrifying in the open court, made sound decisions (played point guard at times) and was disruptive on the defensive end due to his long arms and active hands.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Jackson leads North Carolina  class

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
7:15
PM ET
North Carolina head coach Roy Williams announced the signing of three student-athletes to letters of intent on Wednesday.

Headed to Chapel Hill next year are three ESPN 100 prospects, including the top-ranked small forward Justin Jackson (Tomball, Texas/Homeschool Christian), the No. 4 small forward Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) and the third-ranked point guard Joel Berry (Apopka, Fla./Lake Highland Prep).

"We are ecstatic that these three young men and their families have decided to join our basketball family," Williams said. "Each of them are talented, come from wonderful families and share a common trait in that they have a tremendous desire for their teams to do well."

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 3 in the ESPN.com RecruitingNation Top 40.

SPONSORED HEADLINES