Eastern New Mexico University junior Irshaun Pinckney, once talking about a career in engineering, decided to change his major to business and continue to play basketball for the Greyhounds. CNJ photo illustration by Eric Kluth
PORTALES — Making adjustments is part of life and basketball.
On the court, former Clovis High standout Irshaun Pinckney went from overpowering opponents in the paint to outsmarting them on the perimeter.
Off the court, he’s changed his major but still values an education.
Too small to play post at the college level and lacking the footspeed to be a true guard, the 6-foot-2 Pinckney relied on a soft shooting touch and court savvy to become a versatile and valuable member of an Eastern New Mexico team that won 20 games and the Lone Star Conference South title last season.
Coaches and players use consistency, toughness and intelligence to describe Pinckney on the court.
Fourth-year Eastern coach Shawn Scanlan said no one gets more out of his talent than Pinckney.
“He’s never been a high scorer,” Scanlan said. “But he’s got a good mid-range jump shot and he knows how to use his body in the paint. Irshaun has picked up ways to do things.
“He’s got a lot of intangibles that includes being an overall good person. He’s not a great athlete, and nothing about his game is exceptional. He’s just very consistent and does what it takes to get the job done.”
Senior point guard Brent Cooper said Pinckney brings a certain mentality to the game.
“Aggression,” Cooper said. “But yet he’s got such a soft touch.”
Pinckney, an all-state post in high school, talked with Scanlan after last season about his future, a future that once included a goal to become an engineer, which would have meant leaving Eastern because it does not offer a degree in the field.
“I decided I wanted to continue to play basketball after being around the guys for a while,” said Pinckney, who averaged seven points and 2.4 rebounds while playing about 19 minutes a game last season.
“He told me he was having fun (playing basketball) and that he could only do it a certain amount of time,” Scanlan said.
He switched his major to business and hasn’t looked back.
Scanlan said he would have supported Pinckney’s decision to pursue an engineering degree but is delighted he stayed.
“He’s been a very big part of our success here,” Scanlan said. “He brings an underlying quality of consistency and intelligence to the team.”
The Eastern coach said Pinckney picks up extra minutes because he can play four of the five positions on the floor.
Pinckney, who said he wants to go into sports marketing, is one of three returning starters for the Greyhounds.
Eastern opens its season at home on Nov. 18 against Incarnate Word.