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The Daily Tar Heel

Theo Pinson can and will say it all for the Tar Heels

Theo Pinson celebrates while the team makes half-court shots during practice before their Sweet 16 match-up against Indiana. 

Theo Pinson celebrates while the team makes half-court shots during practice before their Sweet 16 match-up against Indiana. 

That’s all you have to say, and people crack a smile — but not as big as his.

Since the North Carolina men’s basketball team won the ACC Tournament, sophomore Theo Pinson has been living it up. He’s crashed a press conference. He did an impression of Larry Fedora in a video viewed by thousands. When he finally got a chair at a press conference, he stopped to take a selfie with the media. He’s played some good basketball, too.

And he hasn’t stopped talking — although, to hear Coach Roy Williams say it, that isn’t any different from usual.

“I could ask (Pinson) a question, go fix me a grilled cheese sandwich and come back, and he’d still be talking,” he said.

But there’s something in Williams’ eyes when he talks about Pinson.

“I’ve had some weird dudes ... I got some guys that are way out there, but Theo is the most enthusiastic player I’ve probably coached in a long, long time. But I like kids that are different, that don’t just look you in the eye and can’t breathe. I like personalities and I enjoy laughing.”

And there’s a grin on sophomore Justin Jackson’s face when he’s asked about how his classmate gets to him.

“In a lot of ways,” Jackson answers.

Then there’s a moment during UNC’s 88-74 win over Notre Dame on Sunday.

UNC needed something, anything, to push it up and over the team it had defeated by 31 points in the ACC Tournament. And they got Pinson. The 6-foot-6-inch do-it-all man stole the ball from a Notre Dame forward and called a timeout.

The timeout was enough for UNC to push ahead — and enough for Pinson to earn himself a seat at the press conference.

“I never have to congratulate him,” Williams said. “He congratulates himself.”

And when UNC goes small, Williams calls for Pinson, whose versatility helps make that happen. His presence speeds up the game, exactly how the Tar Heels want.

“It makes our defense a little bit faster,” sophomore Joel Berry said. “Guys are flying around, and the speed picks up a little bit more when we bring Theo in at the four.”

And off the court, even now with the pressure of Saturday’s game against Syracuse looming, Pinson is still talking. He’s probably talking right now, as you read this. He might be working on a new impression, or making his fellow sophomores Jackson and Berry laugh, or maybe he’s taking something away from Jackson and hiding it.

“You always have that one guy,” Berry said. “And Theo’s that guy.”


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