Will Theo Pinson test the NBA waters?


Coming off UNC’s national championship, underclassmen Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley have declared for the NBA Draft. Bradley hasn’t hired an agent, taking advantage of player-friendly rules that allow prospects to test the waters without losing their college eligibility.

While he’s not going as high in mock drafts as Jackson or Bradley, rising senior Theo Pinson may also consider exploring his options this spring. DraftExpress lists Pinson as the No. 56 overall pick in its 2018 NBA mock draft, but he isn’t listed as a 2017 prospect.

Pinson isn’t popping up in many, if any, 2017 mock drafts. But then again, neither are several other draft-eligible prospects who have declared. Pinson would have absolutely nothing to lose by entering the draft pool and gathering feedback without hiring an agent.

Pinson could look at former UNC star Danny Green as a good example. Following UNC’s 2008 Final Four run, Green surprised a lot of people around Chapel Hill by testing the NBA waters.



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Nobody at the time thought Green was worthy of a draft selection. But he gained invaluable exposure to NBA franchises that paid dividends the following year. After UNC won the 2009 NCAA title, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Green in the second round. Eight years and an NBA title later, Green is thriving in the pros with the San Antonio Spurs.

Realistically, nobody expects Pinson to be in the NBA this time a year from now. He still has much work to do on his offensive game. Plus, he needs to prove that he can stay healthy for a full season as one of UNC’s go-to players.

Pinson has the athleticism and defensive awareness to challenge for an NBA roster spot in time. Like Green, he has the type of length along the perimeter that pro teams like.

Pinson could gain a great deal this spring by working out for pro teams and attending the NBA pre-draft camps. He could learn some of the things he needs to improve on as a senior at UNC. Along with Joel Berry (assuming the point guard stays), Pinson can emerge as one of the team’s top leaders next season.

The small forward will one day be able to cash in on his basketball talents. Testing the NBA waters this season is one way to position himself well for when that day comes.