Theo Pinson takes North Carolina over Indiana


Theo Pinson told reporters at his press conference on Wednesday in North Carolina that the turning point came during a conversation with North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Thursday.

The 6-foot-5 wing from Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., and consensus top-20 player was torn between Indiana and his home state school.

He wouldn’t say what he and Williams actually talked about, but he said he decided afterward that he wanted to stay close to home.

On Wednesday, he made it official with a press conference at his school and chose North Carolina over Indiana, as well as Duke, Louisville and Georgetown.

“It came down, really, to Indiana and Carolina,” Pinson told reporters. “Me and Roy, we had a very good relationship. I had a very good relationship with coach (Tom) Crean also. It’s just, why not play in front of your peers for four more years if it has to be like that. I felt like that was the best decision.”

Pinson said he does believe that he fits Williams’s up-tempo style of play. He’s known primarily for his athleticism and defensive ability, but he’s also an excellent passer and can finish at the rim. All of that would seem to translate well to a wide-open game.

“They get up and down the floor,” Pinson said. “They need guards for 2014 because they’re gonna lose a couple of them. I’ll be able to come in and play. I’m happy about that.”

Though Indiana gets up and down the floor just as much, if not more so, exactly how much Pinson would have been able to come in and play right away at Indiana is hard to tell. The Hoosiers will lose rising senior Will Sheehey after this year, but would presumably return incoming freshmen Stanford Robinson, Troy Williams, Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, as well as rising sophomore Jeremy Hollowell and rising junior Austin Etherington, all of whom would be in the mix for either the shooting guard or small forward spot. The Hoosiers also already have a commitment from Marion shooting guard James Blackmon Jr. for the Class of 2014.

But the Indiana coaching staff had clearly made Pinson a very high priority. He visited Indiana for the IU-Michigan game on Feb. 2, and the staff made a point to attend Wesleyan Christian’s state championship game, as well as several of Pinson’s Nike Elite Youth Basketball games with the CP3 All-Stars.

“They put a whole lot of work in the recruitment,” Pinson said. “It’s a business, and you have to do what you have to do, but I respect the heck out of Indiana.”
So much that he made a point to call Crean just before he made his announcement.

“It was tough,” Pinson said. “I was hurt just talking to him. I knew it would be bigger of a man to just call him. I didn’t want to do anything like text him or something. That would be lame. I’m glad we both had an understanding that we both still got a good relationship with each other, so it’s all right.”

The Hoosiers still have a number of high-priority targets on the board for the Class of 2014. That includes Australian point guard Dante Exum, who is currently rated as the No. 18 player in the class but is also projected to be a top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft if he opts not to go to college, which would be an option for the international player. They are also still after in-state recruits Jaquan Lyle (Evansville Bosse) and Trevon Bluiett (Park Tudor), as well as Massachusetts big man Goodluck Okonoboh, Florida wing Brandone Francis and others.

But Pinson was for a time priority one. It just proved to difficult to get him to leave his home state.

“I just wanted to let all my fellow students and coaches come and see me play,” Pinson said. “It would’ve been hard for them going all the way to Indiana. Indiana’s a great school. I feel bad, but at the same time, I’m happy that it’s off my shoulders.”

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58 comments:

  • Geoff says:

    Dustin – imagine if you had reported that Pnson was choosing IU…

  • IndianaDrake says:

    Top recruit cant secure PT at I.U. so he picks UNC. That’s a great headline. You can use it Dustin. His exact words a few days ago was that he wanted to go where he could play FROM DAY 1. His words. That just shows how far we’ve come and how deep we are in 2014. I wanted to see Theo in Cream and Crimson but I also know that Crean has put us in a great position. We have most offers out to 5 stars in that class. We may not see another 4 star for a long time. And if Crean picks a 4 star its because he sees something we don’t. When Victor arrived I loved his dunk at midnight madness but for the most part I thought it was a wasted class. That’s why I work in sales and don’t get paid to recruit. Another point; Rumors are that Pinson will drop to 25 at the beginning of his Senior season. Blackmon will soar into the top 15. IU is in great position. I’m proud of Crean and what he’s done. I remember first round exits and NIT’s. And people complain about back to back SWEET 16’S?
    The past two years I’ve been like a little kid filling out 50 brackets and IU going all the way in all of them. That hasn’t happened since the 90’s. CTC is the man!

  • Mike says:

    I hope the comments remain courteous.

    Wish him the best of luck (except when UNC plays IU, of course) and move on. Crean probably has.

  • Ben says:

    Oh well. Life goes on. Goodluck Theo. Hopefully our 2 respective teams will meet when your playing at UNC. Next recruit please…

  • Chicago Hoosier says:

    We must not forget these kids are 17/18 years old. This is the biggest decision of there lives so far, we need to support them in that process. Both schools are great options.
    We need to keep the option open for him to come back to IU…. crazy things happen in recruiting.

  • Preston says:

    Aruss:I already told you guys he’s committing to IU but if you need more proof then here it is: http://247sports.com/Player/Theo-Pinson-11863/PlayerInstitutionPredictions

    If I were bragging about my predictions I think I would need more then 27% believing he was coming to IU as proof! BTW I hope there is no truth to the rumor that DD had his peeps convince Theo to stay in NC just so he could ruin Aruss’s percentage!

  • Weatherman says:

    Good post, Drake. We have a lot of good players already on board, so it will be difficult to land many 5 stars for the next couple of years. Top-20 players will be looking to for serious playing time right away, which will be hard to come by for the foreseeable future. I do think that there are plenty of other good players, though, who will be a bit more patient and a bit less convinced they are just a year or two away from the NBA. Louisville just won a national championship with a team filled with 3- and 4- star players, so like you say, there is more reason to be optimistic now than in a generation.

  • Punjab says:

    Bummer, man. So glad IU’s gotten back to the point where we can lose out on a top prospect like this and just let out a collective “oh well. Next…”

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    Aruss!….Aruss!

    Aruss!!…..Aruss!!….anybody seen Aruss???….anybody hear from Aruss??…or his primo sources???

    No problem Aruss…don’t cry son…big guys don’t cry…and 16-17 years no one will even remember this huge embarrassment and you can start reestablishing a reputation as knowing what you are talking about.

    (And Dustin, a professional, will be about 50 and will be much less likely to call it to your attention if you screw it up again. Surely, by then he’ll send you Scoops in a totally different technology)

    Be a man and be mature. Your own fault for trying to knock his shovel out of his hands. That’s what makes Dustin a professional. You got exactly what you were asking for.

  • coachv says:

    I guess aruss’ sources ARE peccable.

  • TJ says:

    It wasn’s JUST staying home BUT also competition from within State ; BOTH NC State and Duke have had good recruiting classes ( well above good) Purdue isnt offering IN state competition on the floor ..So it came down to IU vs NC +NC STATE+ DUKE+ staying home

  • Podunker says:

    Well I hate moral victories, but it does say something about IU and Tom Crean that it came down to IU and UNC. It would have been really tough for this young man to leave his home state. There was just enormous inertia keeping the young man local. Hard for someone that young to choose to move hundreds of miles away from friends and family.

  • Geoff says:

    Po – I hope we can say the same thing about the top Indiana talent 2015 and beyond…

  • Realty says:

    Moral victory? We lost a great recruit period. Indiana is still not an elite program but may get there. We underachieved big time this year. If you have two lottery picks on your roster you should be able to get past the sweet 16. The Pinson situation is a great example of Crean’s coaching career. He is good but always comes up a little short of being great!

  • Mike says:

    I have no problem when a kid elects to play in-state for college. I don’t blame him at all, and I think it was good that it was between UNC and IU, so we almost against the local school. Now we just need to sign the top in-state guys.

  • Mike says:

    *almost won against

  • Chet says:

    Realty (do you sell houses?),
    You must think Calapari is the worst coach in the world with his roster and he doesn’t even make the tourney.

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    Certainly is not hard to identify a Crean hater. Their banter is always the same.

  • Geoff says:

    I’m so curious who in here knows “Natasha”…

  • Ron says:

    If you knew Natasha like I know Natasha….don’t remember the rest of the song. The $200,000 Natasha? The “wow she looks nice” mug shot Natasha?

  • TJ says:

    For those that think CTC “missed” with Pinson..I went over current recruiting status of 2014 ..and NC had an early commit from another “wing man ” Justin Jackson rated #10 by Scoops..and their comment was a “matched set on the wing” Jackson is 6’6 and Pinson was listed 6’5 . is it possible the early commit by Jackson helped to “sell” Pinson to stay home???

  • Ron says:

    (Continued)..

    The $450 an hr – $800.00 2-hours Natasha? The why in the world was I going to the Greenwood Mall instead of Keystone at the Crossing Mall Natasha? The why did I stay at Holiday Inn instead of the Sheraton Natasha?

    We talking the same Natasha?

  • Podunker says:

    Realty, Crean’s still a young man. He’s got lot’s of time to transition from a “good” coach to leading IU to a championship. How many NCAA Championships has Marquette won before and after Crean coached there? What was the condition of the IU basketball program when Crean arrived in Bloomington? It takes time to rebuild a program back up from total devastation to a position where in can compete for championships.

    You’re obviously a “glass half full” kind of guy. Maybe a Crean-hater too. You reference two lottery picks on IU’s roster, implying that in spite of that, Crean could not win it all. Well, here’s a news flash for you. There have been a lot of college coaches that had two or more NBA lottery picks on their team that never won an NCAA Championship. How many times did Dean Smith have that level of talent and end up without the grand prize? How many times has Coach K had that talent and failed to win it all? I could go on and on, but you get my point. “To achieve greatness takes time, a lot of time.”

    In order to win an NCAA Championship, a team needs seven or eight really good players, all healthy and playing together like a well oiled machine, with a little bit of luck thrown in, in order to win an NCAA Championship.

  • Mariner Tom says:

    I’m afraid that Lorenzo Romar is a good example of a recent coach with two near lottery picks failing to make the tourney (Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross). Happens a lot. Having lottery pick talent does not mean a player possesses the mental maturity to perform under pressure, nor that he is pre-plumbed and wired so that one only need the “right coach” to plug in his electricity and water supply come playoff time.

  • TsaoTsuG says:

    I always took a lot of pride in the fact that our attitude towards recruiting really set us apart from the obsessiveness of corrupt programs like Kentucky. In fact, I always attributed the difference to the much higher vision about sports and the legitimacy of our educational institution by a smarter, wiser, more mature, more knowledgeable fan following that sees recruiting well within its proper context. Indiana does not rent bodies, it educates talented with superior development of student-athletes by outstanding coaches, and a supportive environment led by fans who value and respect the term student-athlete, in its proper perspective.

    That, set Indiana apart from most others; I can only think of a handful of universities that can make the same claim, including most of the B1G. Obviously, as our conference has grown, it has sought to retain the balance that makes it unique. It is a conference of education-first institutions, serious about educating their athletes.

    Disappointingly, lately I’ve seen a growing obsession among some Hoosier fans consumed with recruiting; the pursuit of ‘four and five star’ athletes and even opening the gates to the consideration of the hyped ‘one and dones’ who seem to have absolutely no educational objectives intention. Even less so, these often don’t even consider ‘becoming a part’ of the Hoosier tradition as personified in the the Steve Downings, Randy Wittmans, Scott Mays’, Mike Woodsons and Cal Cheneys who take as much pride in being ‘a Hoosier’ and a product of what ‘It’s Indiana’ really means, as we take pride and share in their achievements.

    First, the entire obsession with the ‘number’ of *stars* is not only silly but in most cases only shows a general ignorance about the development of a great and classy program. Think about the rating or media services. Who rates the players? Generally, either journalists whose experience and criteria is no more sophisticated as that of most fans or by services whose aim is to get anxiety ridden fans to subscribe to their version of player ratings based on who is recruiting who. A bit like watching a dog chase its own tail with the added entertainment that once in a while they catch it. Then, it’s painful. (I want to make it clear this is NOT a shot at journalists, it simply acknowledges the amateur basis of most evaluators and their knowledge).

    Secondly, the approach minimizes the importance of solid teaching and good, intelligent coaching; beginning with the coach’s decision to offer scholarships to a player, whether a ‘five star’, mere three stars’ like Victor Oladipo (or no stars) to meet a specific coach’s vision and fitting a team’s needs based on it.

    Whatever else goes on with IU and CTC, it is clear that either he or one of the staff he put together has one hell of an eye for evaluating talent. Zeller’s high school career was celebrated, recognized and hyped. Obvious that Oladipo was a rare diamond, as is- potentially- Sheehey. In both cases either TC or a staff member, under Crean’s command and vision, saw the potential most other coaches missed. Just as obvious, someone on CTC’s staff developed the two; and other players who took the Hoosiers out of bottom of the pit and brought IU to its traditional place 9in college basketball; where we now have the luxury of complaining about not getting further than the ‘sweet sixteen’ level.

    Maybe its we fans who need to get better at being fans, followers and students of the game, and in understanding the meaning of ‘competing at the highest levels’. But also, maintaining our reputation as a ‘good’ program while not compromising with our values of bringing in solid people. It is our goal to win a sixth and, then seventh, NCAA championship; but on our terms. Ask yourself, what has Kentucky really won except the mockery most who follow basketball continually think of Kentucky’s dubious achievements, disdain and our growing feeling that ‘it will never, never achieve the level at which Indiana University competes.

    I much prefer knowing that those wearing Indiana’s colors came here to be honestly educated in a program of achievement and integrity. I enjoy the fact that when they leave we miss the person who wore the number as a person with whom we share our world forever; where at many of the ‘outlaw’ schools they often can not even recall the ‘student’.

    To stay at this lofty level, we need to understand that our priority is to recruit real student-athletes who come to Indiana to become Hoosiers; not as rent-a-body street-walkers and mercenaries.

    The truth, the only thing that distinguishes us from Kentucky is everything about the difference. As a Hoosier I am proud of it and want to keep it exactly as it is.

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