In five seconds, Theo Pinson gave a textbook definition of who he is as a player.
It started with an inbounds pass. The North Carolina men's basketball team trailed Barton College, 6-2, early in the first half of its Friday night exhibition. Pinson stood on the sideline and looked for a teammate.
Guard Seventh Woods, Pinson’s first option, came off a screen but couldn’t get free. Barton College defender Jeff Gordon took notice and inched closer. And when Pinson eventually inbounded the ball to forward Luke Maye, Gordon tried to jump the pass. That was his mistake.
As soon as Maye touched the ball, he’d already locked eyes with Pinson, who was now taking off down the right side of the court. A soft pass found Pinson’s hands in stride. He took one dribble and two steps before elevating, shielding a defender with his left arm in air while finishing a scoop layup with his right.
The senior forward hit the floor and gathered himself. But as soon as he looked up, he saw a lazy inbounds pass being thrown right above him. Pinson instinctively stretched his 6-foot-6 frame, tipped the ball once, secured it and drew a foul.
He clapped his hands rapidly and celebrated with Woods. In one sequence, he had scored, forced a turnover and brought a crowd of 10,047 — less than half of the Dean E. Smith Center’s full capacity — to its feet.
“It was all right,” Pinson said of his performance after UNC’s 91-80 win. “I can play a little better.”
His final stat line was one of versatility: 14 points, three assists, two blocks and three steals in 25 minutes. The energy and playmaking, perhaps the two parts of his game he’s known for most, were there. But, albeit in a game that didn’t count, there were new things, too.