Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Justise Winslow Looking to Cut List By July Live Period
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Justise Winslow has a fairly busy schedule over the next few weeks, what with the FIBA U19 World Championship running from June 27-July 7 in Prague.
Yet even as he practices and prepares for the big event, Winslow is eyeing his future college plans.
“At this point I really don’t have any leaders, everyone’s pretty equal,” the 6-foot-6 forward from Houston St. John’s told SNY.tv Thursday following U19 practice at the Verizon Center.
“I might just cut my list before the July period to help some of those coaches, so they know I’m interested and those that I’m not interested in.”
Winslow is currently considering 10 schools — Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Florida, Houston, Kansas, North Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA — and said he didn’t know which schools would definitely make the cut.
“Not yet, no,” he said.
Still, it would seem likely that Arizona and Duke and possibly Baylor and Kansas could all make the cut.
Arizona and Duke have been perceived as the frontrunners for his services, and Baylor, Duke and Kansas are the three schools that Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all share in common. Okafor and Jones will take an official visit to Baylor in late August, but Winslow has not yet committed to that visit.
“I haven’t decided yet,” he said. “I don’t have any visits set up yet. I’m just trying to get through this USA experience first and maybe in July, during that live period, I can start thinking about stuff.”
Many observers believe Jones and Okafor will land at Duke, and Winslow is certainly considering the Blue Devils as well.
“With Duke I had a recent visit out there, got to know the coaches and some of the incoming players,” Winslow said, adding that he didn’t have any leaders.
Okafor and Winslow have Arizona on their lists, but Jones does not. As reported here Thursday, Aaron Gordon is working on getting all three to Arizona, even though he will likely be in the NBA by then.
While Okafor and Jones appear locked in to attending the same school, Winslow is not yet certain he will end up joining them in a three-headed monster.
“Those two seem to be pretty concrete in going to school together,” Winslow said. “I’d say 98, 99 percent chance that they are.”
Asked what he thought was the percentage that he would join them, he said: “I really don’t know. It would be great to go to school with them. They’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. So have I. I’m a little different.”
Several schools are also in the mix for Jones and Okafor, but not Winslow — namely Ohio State and Michigan State, as well as Kentucky.
“They’re Midwest guys and they have those kind of schools on their list but I wish and I hope that we can do it,” Winslow said. “But we all just have to do what’s best for our three families.”
He added that it was certainly not definite that he would join the other two in college.
“It’s not finite, it’s not something that’s concrete yet, ” he said. “We all just gotta do what’s best for our families.”
In the meantime, Winslow and Okafor are the lone high school seniors on the U19 team that leaves Saturday for Prague.
They said the older players haven’t made them wear Dora the Explorer backpacks or anything but they do have to get them water.
“We’re really excited to be the younger guys out here competing with these guys and theyr’e really getting us better each and every day because they’re that next level,” he said. “They experienced it. They’re helping us get better, whether it’s stronger, faster, it’s really been helping us.”
Both Winslow and Okafor have obviously impressed U19 coach Billy Donovan enough that they made the final 12-man roster.
“The thing with Justise that we felt was interesting is he’s such a good passer and he’s so unselfish,” Donovan told SNY.tv.
“We can slide him from the two, three, four and play small four. The style of play, running, pressing, and he’s a pass-first guy. The one thing that I respect about Jahlil and Justise’s games is both guys, for as young as they are, they have very mature games. They have older games. They understand the game. When Justise is out here with Jerami Grant and Marcus Smart, he’s not out there just trying to get his shots off.
“Most high school kids get their reputations off of scoring, and I think Justise has got a really good feel how to play, as does Jahlil, so those guys can function in an environment where they don’t get the ball.”
After Prague, Winslow will still have a busy summer ahead.
He hopes to play with his Houston Hoops team in the Peach Jam, which begins July 10, three days after the World Championship ends.
He also plans to play in Las Vegas and Orlando this summer; possibly in the Nike Global Challenge July 17-21 in Virginia and Washington; in the Adidas Nations event in early August; and in the Elite 24 game Aug. 24 in New York.
For now, though, it’s all about Prague and trying to win gold.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.