Pinson opts to stay close to home, play for UNC

  • 05/22/2013 3:54 pm in

042813HIGH POINT, N.C. — Home — or closer to home — was where Theo Pinson’s heart was.

It was the draw of playing closer to home that led Pinson, a 5-star recruit in the class of 2014 and top target of Indiana, to commit to play basketball at North Carolina on Wednesday.

Pinson, a 6-6, 190-pound wing, made the announcement in the gym at Wesleyan Christian Academy flanked by his parents, sister, and high school coach Keith Gatlin.

About 100 fellow students and school supporters were in attendance. Pinson said that making the announcement Wednesday was important since it was the last day of school for the students and he wanted them to be a part of it.

Seated at a small table, Pinson thanked God, all his coaches, teammates, and the “Red Sea” — the student cheering section at the school — and said he came to the decision because he thought his recruiting process was over.

He leaned down and to his left and placed a Carolina Blue hat on his head while saying “I’ll be playing college basketball for the University of North Carolina.”

The decision was met with loud cheers and applause from the faithful in attendance. Pinson, who had just wrapped up his final exam in French class before he went into the gym, said he made a call to Crean this morning to notify him of his decision.

“One of the toughest things I’ve ever done, really,” Pinson said. “I was just hurt by talking to him, but I wanted to be big about it and call him with the news and not text him or something. That would be lame. I’m glad we had a good understanding about it and we will still have a good relationship. But it’s hard to do that, as hard as they had worked during the recruiting process. I knew it was going to be a hard decision and that I was going to have to let someone down.”

Gatlin said he wasn’t aware where Pinson was headed until the announcement came, only that he knew one of his standout players was ready for the recruiting process to be over.

“He called me last week and told me ‘Coach, I really need to talk to you. I think I’m ready,’” Gatlin said. “Then he told me what he had in mind as far as making the announcement. But yeah, I’m a little surprised it wasn’t Indiana. But now that it’s over, I think he’ll be able to relax next season.”

Jon Adams is one of Pinson’s coaches on the CP3 All-Stars AAU team, and went so far Wednesday morning to say that he was “almost certain” Pinson was going to pick Indiana.

“I’m very surprised,” Adams said. “I knew it was between Carolina and Indiana, and we really haven’t talked about where he was going to go. I just knew which schools he was most interested in going, and it was between the two of them.”

Pinson said he came to the conclusion last Thursday that North Carolina was his choice after a long conversation with Roy Williams. He called Williams on Tuesday to let him know he wanted to be a Tar Heel.

“I was still up and down about stuff all weekend, but felt at peace at the same time,” Pinson said. “It just came down to me wanting to stay closer to home. Being able to have my parents and my peers come see me play was the deciding factor, really.”

Pinson, who grew up as a Duke fan, said the Blue Devils were still in on the recruiting process, too. But, his decision came down to two schools — Indiana and North Carolina.

“I wanted to do what was best for me, and being a Duke fan was never a factor in the recruiting process,” Pinson said. “All of them are great programs with plenty of tradition. I just felt like Carolina was the right fit. Coach Crean and his staff did a heck of job recruiting me and working on getting me to Indiana. I respect the heck out of Indiana and wish them well.”

Marc Pruitt is a sports journalist for The Winston Salem Journal.

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  • TJ91

    Always hurts to be let down like that. Hard not to like the kid though. Seems to have a great head on his shoulders and mature as can be. Really impressive that he called Crean to let him know before him. Hopefully the Hoosiers can get some Goodluck with a big time recruit in the near future!

  • Gregory Spera

    That he seems like such a great guy makes it feel even worse.

  • Gotta give Roy credit here………kid said it himself……had a long conversation with Roy and that sealed the deal. IU will still be loaded with talent and our player development is as good as anyone out there. Just feel weird to lose a recruiting battle in general……a testament to Crean and his staff.

  • Kelin Blab

    Wow…..Just got home from a long work day and now this…..REALLY STUNNED but recruiting never stops.

    Exum, Goodluck, Booth, Lyle, Bluiett and many others still on the board.

  • q95

    I hope we face him.

  • I still can’t believe he slipped away. Now getting Exum and Goodluck are a MUST for Crean.

  • I see what you did there.

  • SCHoosier

    RW had the advantage of being 60 miles away….and readily available to close the deal with one last detailed conversation. TC and staff knocked themselves out..and I admire how Pinson handled the notification. I hope TC will enjoy a similar advantage of IU “being close to home” with the outstanding young native Hoosiers he will recruit in the coming years. We move on.

  • brad

    Hi all –
    Recent UNC graduate here that just wanted to say I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of class I’ve seen in your comments. Originally came across this site to get both sidsd and was anticipating to see a series of negative comments but you all have been great ambassadors to your program and have gained a great deal of respect from me.

    Good luck next season and God bless,

  • MarkDIU10

    We have lost recruits before and we will again. Personally I am uncertain how this became such a big deal. Best of luck to him. At least we know in May that he’s not coming in. It could be the fall and Crean would have been recruiting him all summer and fall. Let’s move on and get some good players who want to be here. Ease back off the ledge IU fans.

  • Seems like a nice guy, best of luck to him!

  • Luke72

    Crean continues to to not to have brought the Hoosiers to an elite status! NC. Kansas, UK and Duke are going to have the recruiting advantage until we hang another banner. Really like Crean but as with Marquettte not sure he can win a championship!

  • BC

    I think we matched up badly with Syracuse. If they hasn’t been in our bracket, I could have seen those team go to the championship game. Yogi, Zeller, Vonleh and Williams are all big recruits. They arenot exactly lagging behind.

  • Brad – This is why this is the best IU basketball site on the Internet

  • calbert40

    I guess I don’t know what an elite status is. First, CTC hasn’t “continued” to fail, because he took over the program when it was in shambles. He then proceeded to rebuild it. No “continued” failures here at all.

    Secondly, we were the #1 team in the nation the majority of the season, won the B1G title outright, have made the Sweet 16 two years in a row (something that 7 or 8 schools in the country can boast), and earned a #1 NCAA seed. Again, maybe I don’t know what “elite” is, but if that isn’t it…it is awfully close.

  • Ole Man

    But wait until the season starts and we begin to pick on one another! LOL! Just kiddin’ guys.

  • Ole Man

    Tired of hearing “we matched up badly….”. A lot of teams match-up-badly with a zone. Heck, we have problems with NW because they play a lot of zone.
    No matter the match up, champions find a way and move on.
    We simply couldn’t find a way this year. And, unfortunately, we probably won’t be any closer to solving the puzzle come December.

  • Ole Man

    I think the argument is that we haven’t won a title in a while.
    And while I do agree with you, I think to rejoin the truly Elite, we need to win a title.
    And then, like the others be a serious contender every 3 or 4 years.

  • calbert40

    I understand that sentiment, honestly, and I realize that what makes a program “elite” is arbitrary, but I really don’t feel like that is a good benchmark for “elite” status.

    How far do we go back on champions to gauge elite status? Five years? Ten? NCAA Champions in the past 10 years: UL, UK, UCONN (2X), Duke, UNC (2X), Kansas and Florida (2X). Are they the only elite programs? How many programs can be elite at one time?

    What about programs like MSU? They haven’t won a title since 2000, but they seemingly make the Final Four every other year. Does a Final Four berth make us elite? If one would suggest that it would, does that mean that VCU, George Mason and Butler are elite and above programs like IU?

    I’m not trying to be a punk with these questions nor are they aimed solely at you, but I think making arbitrary benchmarks doesn’t really work. Personally, I believe we achieved elite status last season. I think we need to continue to improve to maintain that status. THEN, I think we will be truly elite again.

  • Ole Man

    I certainly understand every word you wrote.
    In response, all I can say is that I was succinct and covered your points.
    Were we elite last year–yes, probably; although in the end we didn’t fulfill our potential.
    All I was saying is win the next one, then the argument is settled.
    I think being in the final four and elite eight every 3 or so years keeps us in that company.

  • Ole Man

    Your statement is so full of holes and ESPN BS analysis that it isn’t close to true.
    IF we’re not prepared to play and attack a zone, then I don’t give a darn if Kobe and Lebron are starting for us.
    And I don’t know what team you were watching this season. Hulls created most of his shots. Cody has been rated as the best offensive center at the NBA tryouts. Yes, he had trouble from time to time; but again your BS is something I read or heard on blogs and newscasts over and over. And no, Syracuse played an average game; not even close to a great game.
    We run a pro offense with little or no zone attack principles. Rather than attack the players you should learn a little more about basketball.

  • hoosier1158

    IU didn’t match up well with Syracuse because coach elected to go with two small guards. Some games come around and you have to change up your line up so you’re not at a disadvantage.