University of Detroit-Jesuit freshman guard Cassius Winston is a long way from reaching his physical peak, but numerous scouts and coaches agree, he has a chance to be one of the best players in the 2016 class. After the talented youngster scored 16 points in a 69-66 victory over Macomb Dakota last week, GoBlueWolverine caught up with U of D Jesuit coach Pat Donnelly to get a breakdown of Winston's talent, his potential, and more.
Josh Newkirk: Give us your take on Cassius Winston the player. What are some things that we might not have seen tonight that he brings to the table?
Pat Donnelly: “Well he didn’t really take a lot of opportunities shooting the ball from the perimeter. He’s a very good perimeter shooter. The one thing he will learn right now, is, he is very unselfish. He will sometimes pass up some pretty good shots to make an extra pass. ...That’s something he will continue to develop. He know we got some guys on the floor that can score. But again, he got great court vision. And I think he is a pass first guy. At some point he will have to be more aggressive offensively and start to look for his shot a little bit more.”
Josh Newkirk: Do you think that his shot aggression will come with age?
Pat Donnelly: “No, he doesn’t have that mentality. He’s not taking a back seat to anybody. I think he has always been an unselfish player. Even playing in seventh and eighth grade when he was in our academy, and he always got other guys involved first. When he needed to score he started to look for those things. I think that is a quality that a lot guys in terms of college coaches that they’re looking for. They love guys that pass first and make great decisions with the basketball, and then still be able to knock down the open shot.”
Josh Newkirk: Tonight he had 16 points and it looked like he didn’t really put in effort into scoring.
Pat Donnelly: “He wasn’t really looking to score. But he’s got that ability. He’s got a knack to do it. You’ll see him (score) and it’s always quit. Right now, he is averaging 15 points a game for us in the first three games. And they’re a quit 15. And he is shooting probably after today 65 percent from the field. Which is pretty impressive. So he is not a volume shooter. He is a very accurate guy.”
Josh Newkirk: So he is guy if gets an aggressive attitude in scoring on the court, he can easily put up 20-25 points per game?
Pat Donnelly: “Oh easy! He can do it right now. If he had a scorers mentality. He understands angles real well. He knows how to use his body. He missed his two free-throws, but he used his body very well to get the foul. It wasn’t like he went a drew the contact. But he knew the defense was coming and kind of steps in the right way. He’s very intelligent. He’s very smart. He’s got old man game. And that’s from, this kid is a gym rat. If there is an open gym somewhere—he’s there. it doesn’t matter if it’s at UDM or the recreation center down the street. He is finding a place to play, and he is playing against much older guys, and he is learning that way.”
Josh Newkirk: Do you see him as a legit Division-1 prospect?
Josh Newkirk: Let’s stay around the Big Ten. You look at Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, and look at all three of those programs—Which system do think fits him the best?
Pat Donnelly: “That’s a hard call. Quite honestly, I think he would fit in all three of them. I mean he is very good in the open court. He would transition well into Ohio State. He is very intelligent. So he can run sets. So Michigan State would be a good spot. He would be great in the Michigan offense. He can shoot the ball and he can pass the ball. He’s got good off ball screens and coming off screens. Any one of those would be a good fit for him. I mean the kids is just a very good player.”
Josh Newkirk: Is there anything else you would like to add about him?
Pat Donnelly: “Yes, and this is something that I think is most important. Quality, quality kid. Great attitude and very humble and a 3.9 (grade point average) student. You don’t come across that very often. To have a kid that talented and athletic and be a 3.9 student. He’s taking honors geometry as a freshman at U of D. Which is a junior level class. This kid is total package. Great family and great kid.”
Josh Newkirk: Do you think he is going to get taller?
Pat Donnelly: “They project him at 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5. Mom is tall. She is probably 5-foot-10. Dad is my assistant and he is probably 6-foot-2. I don’t think there is any question he is going to continue growing.”
Josh Newkirk: A 6-foot-4 point guard with a pass first mentality? Is the sky is sort of the limit for him?
Pat Donnelly: “The sky is the limit for him. Will pray he stays healthy. He works hard. He’s in the weight room. He’s always playing. He’s always conditioning. He’s always working on his skills. He’s the complete package.”
For highlights of Winston in action versus Macomb Dakota, press play below.