August 20, 2012

Pinson gets it done on court and in classroom

Over the last year Theo Pinson has gone from a heralded prospect with a lot of promise to being arguable the most hyped young player in the basketball crazed state of North Carolina. For the 6-foot-5 small forward from Greensboro (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian Academy the increased recruitment has been somewhat chaotic so far.

"At the moment he's still grasping being recruited by the top schools," Pinson's father, also named Theo, told Cats Illustrated, "Theo enjoys the recruitment part of it as a kid; we haven't really talked about who his top schools are.

"What I'm finding out is that every one of these schools have a different way that they recruit. I think the way things are going now people are going to realize that it probably benefits him to get in there early to build that relationship."

Creating relationships is perhaps the most important part of recruiting, something that the elder Pinson acknowledges freely. College coaches have been inquiring about his son, who is ranked no. 16 in the 2014 Rivals100, since he was a freshman; but it's the relationship that coaches have formed with his son and the Pinson family that ultimately will decide which school the family chooses.

Being from the region full of high profile programs like Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest can put pressure on young players to only look at those schools during the recruiting process.

The Pinson's say that they certainly feel that pressure to stay in-state from their friends and members of the community every day when they talk basketball. But with the family focused on education as priority number one in the recruitment of Theo Jr, every school in the country is a possible destination.

"He's very open to leaving North Carolina if the opportunity arose. Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State those are all great schools with great people coaching them," Pinson said, "We know what the in-state schools have to offer, and we'll consider all of them very closely; but, we're also excited about other schools that have shown interest."

"When it comes down to it, he's going to go to the place that's able to give him the combination of education and basketball. There's a lot of pressure from outsiders to stay in the state but we're used to traveling all over."

In staying with the educational theme, the four-star Pinson will spend much of his off-court time this fall focused on his studies. The family wants to make sure that Theo is ahead of the curve with both his core class requirements and his ACT test score so that he can enjoy his senior season, and the recruiting process, without the burden of academic qualifying.

"Our number one priority in the fall is too keep up the progress that he's made in school. We're determined to have a great year on the court, but also to clamp down in the classroom. I want him to be able to get the SAT out of the way early and not have to put any pressure on himself late in the recruitment process from an academic point," said Pinson.

For someone who spends so much time focused on the world of academia, Pinson can certainly play some basketball as well. The 6-foot-5 wing is a smooth slasher with a scorer's mentality. Pinson has developed the lost art of the mid-range game, where he can use his size and length to shoot over opponents. He's a thinner wing but he's very athletic, and knows how to use his length to score around the rim over bigger defenders.

While his skills continue to develop, and his body continues to firm up, Pinson shows as much potential as just about any 2014 prospect in the nation.

Numerous upper-tier college programs from around the country have called to check in on him, and Kentucky has joined that list since the end of the AAU season (where Pinson played with the CP3 All-Stars).

"We've heard from Kentucky but not necessarily a lot. They've called a few times but we're still trying to gauge their interest right now. Theo is definitely interested in what they have to say. There's no question that UK is one of the top programs in the country. Theo's style of game makes sense for him to play with other top players and versatile guys."

Playing with CP3, Pinson had a great point guard to set up in JaQuel Richmond, also a high school teammate, and several high profile frontline players to do much of the dirty work. This freed Pinson up to do what he does best, score.

Some of the finest basketball that he played this past AAU season came at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta (S.C.) where his team came within one overtime desperation heave of making the finals of Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League, losing to the Oakland Soldiers, the event's eventual champion, in a heartbreaker.

But Pinson left his mark on the tournament, averaging a team high 16.4 points for the event, while playing up an age group in the rising senior division.


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