Theo Pinson became the second member of North Carolina’s national championship basketball team to withdraw his name from the NBA draft process. The junior wing joined Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joel Berry in returning to school for his senior season. “I’m glad I took the time to explore the NBA Draft process, but I am going to play my senior year as a Tar Heel,” Pinson said in a statement issued Wednesday. “It was a dream of mine to play college basketball at the best school and in the best league in the country, and it is a dream of mine to play in the NBA. “The best path for me to reach the league and have a long career there is to have a great senior season and I am so excited to have that opportunity to play another year for Coach Williams and finish my degree as well.” Pinson missed the first 19 games of the 2016-17 season after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. He returned to play a key role in the Tar Heels’ championship run by averaging 6.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. His 77 assists were the most on the team in the 21 games he played. The Greensboro native was also a key defender who provided one of the key plays of the season when he rebounded a missed free throw and dribbled out the final seconds to preserve UNC’s national semifinal victory against Oregon in Phoenix. Pinson’s decision to pull out of the draft and return to Chapel hill comes only days after it was reported that he did not receive an invitation to attend the NBA’s pre-draft Combine in Chicago later this month. “Theo was a key player in our winning the national championship and playing in the last two Final Fours,” coach Roy Williams said. “He not only is an outstanding playmaker, he is someone who gives our team tremendous energy and confidence. We fully supported his decision to look into the draft process and we are excited to know that he will return to Carolina for his senior season. I know he will continue to provide exceptional play and leadership next year.” The withdrawls of Pinson and Berry leave two UNC underclassmen still in the draft process. Junior Justin Jackson has opted to hire an agent and give up his final season of college eligibility. Freshman center Tony Bradley will likely wait until after the Combine to make a decision on his future.
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