Wildcat chooses different route

Justin Pinckney averaged 20.2 points and 3.1 assists at Clovis High this season. CNJ file photo.

By Rick White

They share the same last name but a much different game when it comes to basketball.

Armed with a silky smooth jump shot, recent Clovis High grad Justin Pinckney signed a letter of intent last week to play basketball at Abilene Christian University.

His signing means there will be two Pinckneys playing in the Lone Star Conference this winter. Older brother Irshaun Pinckney will be a senior at Eastern New Mexico University.

“I just wanted to do my own thing,” said Justin Pinckney, a 2004 all-state selection while averaging 20.2 points and 3.1 assists a game at Clovis.

“It was a nice campus and nice people,” he said. “And I really liked the coaching staff.

“I felt good all the way around.”

Irshaun Pinckney, who played post in high school before being moved to the perimeter at Eastern, said he feels Abilene Christian is a good fit for his brother.

“I told him Eastern runs a lot of motion and tries to go inside,” said Pinckney, who averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Greyhounds as a junior. “I told him that ACU lives and dies with the jump shot and that’s more his game.”

He told his younger brother that finding the right school both academically and athletically outweighed the opportunity to play together in college.

“I told him even if we did play together, it would only be for one year,” the older Pinckney said. “I told him to find the school that was right for him, and I think he did.”

Abilene Christian coach Klint Pleasant felt the Wildcats, who finished 12-15 last season, got a steal in landing the 6-foot-1 Pinckney.

“Justin has good size and is a very good perimeter shooter,” said Pleasant, entering his second season at ACU. “With continued hard work, Justin has the chance to blossom into a very good college basketball player.”

Pleasant said he also liked the fact that Pinckney came from a winning program and played for a coach, J.D. Isler, who stressed hard work.

A member of the National Honor Society at CHS, Justin Pinckney said he plans to major in pre-pharmacy.
As far as the possibility of going head-to-head with his brother this year, Irshaun said he hasn’t given it much thought.

“It wouldn’t be hard,” he said “Every time we play pick-up, he guards me. I know he wouldn’t mind it, and I don’t think it would bother me either.”