UNC's Theo Pinson hoping to return against NC State

If it had been up to Theo Pinson, he would have played on Tuesday night during North Carolina’s 89-86 overtime victory at Clemson.

“I wanted to play tonight,” he said on Tuesday after that game, inside the Tar Heels’ locker room. “But it wasn’t on the schedule, it wasn’t planned for me to play tonight. So we’ll see.”

Might Pinson, the junior wing forward, return for the Tar Heels’ game on Saturday against N.C. State? He smiled at the thought.

“I hope I can play,” he said. “It depends on when coach puts me in, when Doug (Halverson) and Jonas (Sahratian) say, ‘Theo, you can go do everything.’”

Halverson is the Tar Heels’ head trainer, and Sahratian the team’s strength and conditioning coach. Both have been instrumental in Pinson’s rehabilitation after he underwent surgery in late October to repair a broken bone in his right foot.

Pinson, who was expected to enter the season as a starter, dressed on Tuesday as if he might play. He has been doing that for about two weeks now, dressing as if he’s ready to go.

The difference now: He really believes he is ready.

Pinson on Tuesday said went through two full practices in the days before the game at Clemson. His foot felt “real good,” he said, after going through those practices.

“Went through everything,” he said. “I even went through more the first day of practice than I did the second day. So I’ve been feeling good. Just getting back in the rhythm, making plays.”

It could be only a matter of days before he’s ready to start making them in games, too.

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944, @_andrewcarter