Scouting Report: Theo Pinson
Despite an exceptional performance from North Carolina signee Theo Pinson, Wesleyan Christian (N.C.) fell to national power Prime Prep (Texas), 68-67, in a thrilling overtime contest on Saturday night as part of the inaugural Under Armour Showcase in Charlotte.
Pinson was superb for Wesleyan Christian, scoring 38 points while hauling in 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 wing played every position on the floor for the Trojans throughout the game and played every single minute, including overtime. Among the highlights of the night was a sequence where Pinson missed a layup, recovered his own loose ball rebound and followed up with a powerful dunk directly on a defender (view video at the bottom of this page).
Wesleyan Christian — last year’s NCISAA 3A state champion — was playing without senior point guard and Houston signee JaQuel Richmond and sophomore star Harry Giles, who is missing the season with a torn ACL. Giles, a 6-foot-9 forward, holds a scholarship offer from UNC and is widely considered the top prospect in the 2016 recruiting class.
Prime Prep featured SMU signee and consensus Top-10 prospect Emmanuel Mudiay, along with star sophomore guard Terrance Ferguson. Mudiay finished with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Prime Prep (Texas) emerged victorious, but Pinson stole the show and left the gym buzzing after a masterful 38-point performance in which he carried an undermanned Wesleyan Christian team into overtime against the national power.
Standing a legitimate 6-foot-5 with an impressive wingspan, Pinson looks the part of a star wing guard at first glance. Defensively, his length and energy level makes him capable of guarding either wing position. His opportunistic nature and ability to jump into passing lanes will help him fit in well with Roy Williams’ defense. Pinson was a bit overly aggressive on a few closeouts early in the game, but does a great job of playing recovery defense and is a determined, effective defender in transition.
Pinson is an elite passer, especially for a wing. He only finished with two assists on Saturday night — per the event’s official stats — but made close to a dozen passes to open teammates who missed the ensuing shots. He does a great job of making reads off the pick-and-roll and showed the ability to kick out to open shooters when driving baseline.
Finishing with 38 points, Pinson’s scoring output on Saturday night was the most impressive aspect of his performance. More impressive was the way in which he racked up those 38 points. The senior attacked the rim almost every possession and got to the foul line constantly, finishing 15-of-17 from the charity stripe for the game. Most of Pinson’s scoring came near the rim, as he was able to use his dribble to get quality looks and finish with either hand off the glass. Additionally, he hit two notable midrange jumpers off the dribble while going 3-of-5 from behind the arc. One of those two 3-point misses came on a last-second desperation shot in overtime.
At the next level, Pinson will not be seen as an outside shooter, although he looks comfortable shooting from distance and lines up the ball well despite his slightly unorthodox shooting form. While he looks to have the ability to score right away as a freshman, much of that will come from utilizing his quick first step to get into the lane and then finish through contact and convert from the free-throw line.
Pinson’s final line: 38 points (10-18 FG, 3-5 3PT, 15-17 FT), 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 turnovers, 1 block
-While Pinson did not speak at length, he noted that he enjoyed his official visit to Chapel Hill for the UNC vs. Kentucky game on December 14th, adding that he did not know when he would return to the North Carolina campus next.
-Harry Giles is still sitting as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in June, but was on his feet often, was mobile and dribbling a basketball in team shootaround and did not appear to be wearing any type of knee brace.
-While no official announcement has been made, sources believe that Giles may not play on the AAU circuit this summer, as he hopes to be fully recovered for USA Basketball in September and the next high school season.
-An interesting aside: Wesleyan Christian sophomore Michael Buckland hit a 3-pointer for the Trojans in the fourth quarter to force the game into overtime. He is the brother of current North Carolina women’s basketball player Megan Buckland.
-Another UNC connection at the Under Armour Showcase: Former North Carolina guard Jeff McInnis is an assistant coach for Northside Christian (N.C.), who won the first game of the day, defeating Denver East (Colo.), 75-66. Northside Christian is currently ranked as the No. 12 high school team in the country by USA Today.
Check out the video of Pinson’s slam:
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