By Zach Goins
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Carolina blue and white streamers rained down onto the floor of University of Phoenix stadium. Confetti wasn’t the only thing falling that night though, as Theo Pinson wiped tears from his face. But unlike last year, these were tears of joy.
“The confetti didn’t drop as fast as it did last year, which was crazy.” Pinson joked. “The first thing I thought of when we won was just, ‘I can’t believe we just did it.’ I just thank the Lord we did, because last year would have haunted me for the rest of my life.”
Fresh off of UNC’s sixth national title, Pinson and the Tar Heels are back in Chapel Hill for the summer with their sights set on number seven.
But that doesn’t mean the senior forward and his teammates have stopped enjoying last season yet. Pinson said he hadn’t shifted his attention to next year until Tuesday’s first practice.
“Honestly, I’m still on a high from the championship,” Pinson said. “I don’t know if I want the next season to start, because I still want to be a champion. But at the same time, how great would it be to win it twice in a row?”
Pinson said that the players’ busy schedules have kept them from having many opportunities to really celebrate the season as a team.
“I haven’t really gotten to hang out with the team that won it that much,” Pinson said. “Right when we got back, the dudes that were entering the draft had to start working out and getting ready for the draft and workouts and stuff like that, so everybody was busy. There was a whole lot of stuff going on.”
It seems like there’s stuff going on wherever Pinson goes nowadays. He said he hasn’t been able to go to a restaurant since the championship without having to take a picture with a fan.
Three days after the game in April, Pinson and teammate Joel Berry II made a risky decision — they went to the mall. After being swarmed by fans looking for pictures, autographs and high fives, the two agreed it probably wasn’t the best idea.
“I haven’t been to the mall since,” Pinson said. “It was so dumb, we didn’t even have a chance to shop. It was crazy. You just walk through Foot Locker and stuff like that and you see national championship stuff. You see Joel and Kennedy on the front of magazines and pictures of all of us celebrating and stuff like that. It’s still crazy.”
But if anyone thinks this additional fame will change Pinson, think again.
“I’mma be me regardless,” Pinson said. He said he’ll continue to crack jokes and dance, simply because that’s who he’s always been.
As for the Tar Heels, winning hasn’t changed anything in their preparation for the upcoming season. Pinson said the players hardly ever wear championship gear and rarely even talk about it except to the press.
“People would be shocked,” Pinson said. “We’re working out as much as we did last year, as far as on the court and in the weightroom. Guys have been in the gym countless hours. Honestly, if you came here you probably wouldn’t even know we really won it.”
Pinson knows the team will have a target on its back this season, but the Tar Heels don’t seem to care. Instead, the team is focused on one thing: bringing another title back to Chapel Hill.
“I want to win another one,” Pinson said. “What can you say to me if I go to three Final Fours and [win] two national championships?”
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Charlotte, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.