Thursday, January 24, 2013
No. 9 junior cleans up college list
By Dave Telep
There’s a trend we’re beginning to notice among members of the Class of 2014. The juniors are taking an aggressive approach with their school lists and, in the case of ESPN 60 No. 3 point guard Joel Berry (Apopka, Fla./Lake Highland), their college decision.
Two days later, No. 9 junior Justise Winslow (Houston/St. John’s) did the same.
It’s not that kids are cutting their lists, per se. What they’re doing is trimming the fat in order to prepare for earlier visits, remove extraneous schools they won’t consider and lock in on programs they have legitimate interest in.
Justise Winslow (right), the No. 9 player in the ESPN 60, has narrowed his college focus to 10 schools.
Winslow’s bi-coastal list reads from east to west: North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Houston, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford. Each has offered. Winslow, the son of former Phi Slamma Jamma Houston standout Rickie Winslow, might further tidy up his list of suitors following the season. He’s been to each school except for Duke but will see the Blue Devils either officially or unofficially.
“I wanted to get focused on the schools that I’m really interested and the ones that I really see myself playing for,” Winslow said. “Some of the schools were gut feelings, but most were a combination of academic side of things, the coaching, playing style and recruits they have coming.”
As the process unfurls, Winslow has his eye on a few things.
“I think seeing how these recruiting classes play out and the relationships with the coaching staffs will help me narrow it down,” Winslow said.
He indicated that he feels like he's a major priority for each school, especially Arizona, UCLA and the in-state schools, where he senses he’s their No. 1 priority at his position.
Winslow is the No. 9 overall junior and No. 2-ranked small forward in the 2014 class. He was a gold medalist for USA Basketball's junior national team last summer.
Winslow is a player who can be a centerpiece of a recruiting class. Winning tends to accompany him; in addition to USA Basketball, he has state titles on his resume. Coincidentally, the gold medal and the state championships comprise his most significant hoops memories.
“It’s really a tie between my freshman year, when we won state and I passed to my brother for a buzzer-beater layup and everyone stormed court,” Winslow said. “If not that, then I’d say my USA Basketball experience.”
Don't be surprised if other juniors follow the lead of Berry, Winslow and Lindsey and trim up their lists. If nothing else, the actions of a number of elite players this month lends credence to the notion that the new NCAA rule allowing official visits starting Jan. 1 of a player's junior year is causing some underclassmen to treat their recruitment with more urgency.
If players begin making officials and decisions follow, it’s only natural for other prospects to ensure they align themselves with their first choices before someone else beats them to the punch.