UNC forward Theo Pinson hoping to return for Georgia Tech game

After missing North Carolina's past 10 games while recovering from a broken foot, freshman forward Theo Pinson is hopeful that he'll be able to return when the Tar Heels play at Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

“Hopefully I'm out there Tuesday night,” Pinson said on Saturday after UNC's 73-64 victory at Miami.

Pinson hasn't played since Jan. 21, when the Tar Heels won at Wake Forest. His status has been in doubt since, and it was unclear whether Pinson would return this season.

He cleared that up on Saturday, though.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I'm definitely coming back.”

Pinson, who suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, has received a variety of treatment for his injury. He said he has increased his vitamin C intake in hopes of making the bone stronger and he said he has received a laser treatment that has helped heal the bone.

He is also wearing a special insole inside his left shoe, and also what he described as a “clam shell” that wraps around his foot and protects his fifth metatarsal. That device, he said, is “the only thing that's given me a chance” to play.

“So I'm glad to have that,” he said.

Pinson averaged a modest 3.3 points and 15 minutes of playing time per game before his injury. Still, he was becoming one of the Tar Heels' most valuable players off the bench.

He tied his season high with seven points in a one-point loss against Notre Dame on Jan. 5, and he set his season high then with eight rebounds. He didn't match that production in the games that followed but until his injury Pinson had played double figure minutes in every game.

Pinson dressed out on Saturday but coach Roy Williams said there was no intention of Pinson entering the game.

“Just part of his rehab, trying to let him do something,” Williams said. “And he has not been cleared. He hasn't done anything (in) practice, other than what you saw him do today.”

Pinson is hoping that changes soon. He's planning on it changing.

For 10 games he was watched from the bench – nine of them while wearing a suit. The most difficult part, he said, has been “just not being out there with your teammates.”

“And just going through these great games,” he said. “We've had some great games. Syracuse. Florida State. Duke. And I've been wanting to play in that Duke game for the longest, but it's been tough.”

If Pinson has his way, his wait will be over soon enough. He's hoping it ends on Tuesday.

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Twitter: @_andrewcarter