Luke DeCock

At press conferences, Pinson goes from comic relief to honored guest – DeCock

UNC's Williams, Pinson, and Jackson have fun at news conference

VIDEO: North Carolina's Roy Williams, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson have some fun during their news conference at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ Friday, March 31, 2017. The Tar Heels will face the Oregon Ducks Saturday in the n
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VIDEO: North Carolina's Roy Williams, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson have some fun during their news conference at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ Friday, March 31, 2017. The Tar Heels will face the Oregon Ducks Saturday in the n

Theo Pinson stormed another press conference stage Friday, and everyone laughed again, and then he took the seat he was assigned. You can't crash a press conference, as Pinson famously did in Philadelphia during last season's NCAA tournament, if you're supposed to be there.

If Pinson's antics have seemed a little more subdued this time around, it's partly because he's a more integral part of the North Carolina team. His attendance at press conferences and other events is mandatory when you do things like setting up the game-winning shot against Kentucky.

He's gone from comic relief to honored guest.

“I'm getting invited more nowadays,” Pinson said, with pride.

Pinson and Justin Jackson were picked to join Roy Williams on the big stage Friday, although he still managed to make an entrance, sprinting onto the platform.

“That's harder than the ran back on defense all frickin' year,” Williams said, then turned to Pinson as the laughter echoed. “Truth hurts, big fella.”

Williams on Thursday was lamenting that Pinson probably got more credit for his defense than he deserved, but didn't get nearly enough credit for being a playmaker. Either way, his role is completely different from a year ago, as is his media presence. He's playing more, having more of an impact and leaving the antics to others.

“I think he's a little more calm,” Kennedy Meeks said. “He's matured a lot. I don't want to say he was immature last year or anything, but he's grown so much as a player he doesn't have to do those things. They call him up to the podium for him actually playing good defense and scoring points. He doesn't have to go up there and force himself up there.”

With Pinson otherwise occupied, the injured Kenny Williams has started to fill the void. As his teammates did interviews in the locker room, Williams would sit next to them, sticking his phone in their faces, nodding sagely. He's got a long way to go to catch up with Pinson, who isn't having the same impact on off days because he's having more of an impact on game days.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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