Widely regarded as one of the top high school recruits in the class of 2014, Pinson stayed relatively close to home committing to the University of North Carolina and coach Roy Williams at the end of his junior year in May of 2013. Pinson grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, but played his high school basketball at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina. While at Wesleyan, Pinson was recognized with numerous honors including being named to the McDonald's All-American game, the Jordan Brand Classic, as well as participating in the Nike Hoop Summit after being named Mr. Basketball for North Carolina in 2014.
After two inconsistent seasons in Chapel Hill, Pinson is looking to put his stamp on the Tar Heels season as a junior. After a broken foot derailed his freshman season, Pinson returned as a sophomore with an increased role, playing 18 minutes per game mostly off the bench, but faced many of the same struggles that plagued him as a freshman. Unfortunately for Pinson, he suffered a setback last month in the form of yet another broken fifth metatarsal, this time in his right foot, which may derail most of his season.
Pinson certainly looks the part of an NBA wing, standing 6'6' with a solid 6'11 wingspan. He has a slight frame, but has gained significant weight since setting foot on campus, now being listed at a solid 211 pounds. Pinson has good quickness and has shown the ability to finish above the rim.
Pinson is a versatile offensive threat, which is both a blessing and a curse. He currently lacks elite ability of any one specific translatable skill- rather being a bit of a jack of all trades. As a sophomore Pinson continued to struggle as a reliable scoring threat, scoring a paltry 9.7 points per-40. Pinson struggles to create offense for himself, though he does finish around the rim at a high rate, where he shot 62.5% on all attempts per Synergy Sports Technology. He also does a terrific job on effort plays and 50-50 balls, evidenced by his solid 2.3 offensive rebounds per-40.
Arguably Pinson's greatest value is as a playmaker, where he ranked among the top wing players in the country in assists per-40 at 6.2. He has a natural feel for the game and is able to anticipate angles and open lanes to make difficult passes. With that said, he does have a tendency to get a bit out of control, particularly when trying to make plays off the bounce, evidenced by his 2.6 turnovers per-40. It will be interesting to see if Pinson placed an emphasis on tightening his handle in the offseason, in which case his playmaking responsibilities could certainly increase for the Tar Heels.
Pinson is dangerous in transition thanks to his playmaking and athletic tools, but in the half-court his game suffers because of his inability to consistently make shots from the perimeter, shooting only 29% on 1.6 three-point attempts per game as a sophomore. He has a significant amount of extra movement on his jumper, leaning far back and often landing far in front of where he elevated from, in addition to having a relatively inconsistent release point. While 1.6 isn't a high rate of attempts, his percentage from behind the arc combined with his poor free-throw shooting is certainly a cause for concern as he shot only 67.2% from the line as a sophomore.
While Pinson's lack of an elite offensive translatable skills may be worrisome, his versatility on the defensive end is very intriguing. His physical tools are terrific, and help him in being able to guard a variety of players. During the course of North Carolina's run to the national title game, Pinson was tasked with guarding players with very different skill sets such as Josh Hart of Villanova and Tyler Lydon of Syracuse.
Pinson's lateral quickness, coupled with his length, allows him to be a disruptive on ball defender, evidenced by his 1.3 steals per-40 as a sophomore. His engagement level off the ball is a concern however. Often times Pinson gets lost off the ball, watching action that he is not engaged in, allowing offensive players to back cut him or being late on close-outs. Playing with two traditional bigs, Pinson wasn't required to be much of a defensive rebounder, though he did so adequately with 4.6 defensive rebounds per-40. It will be interesting to see whether or not Pinson can remain an engaged off ball defender as a junior, which could lead to him carving out a solid role as a defensive stopper and secondary playmaker on the offensive end.
With Paige having graduated, there could have been an opportunity for Pinson to step into a larger playmaking role as a junior for North Carolina. Unfortunately his broken foot puts a damper on things, which scouts will have to monitor considering it's not his first injury of this nature. Once Pinson is cleared to return, it will be key for him to continue to improve his efficiency and shooting percentages from both the three-point and free-throw line, while also proving that he can remain engaged as an off-ball defender.