Not often does a state produce three McDonald's All-Americans in the same class, and even less frequently would that trio compete for the same AAU team. And very, very rarely would all three of those prospects play on the wing.
But that's exactly the situation that unfurled to the Houston Hoops' utter delight, and a case can be made for Justise Winslow — who's flanked for the Hoops by Justin Jackson and Kelly Oubre — as the most talented of the three.
Winslow played his way to prominence as a rising sophomore. Initially heralded as the son of former Phi Slamma Jamma member Rickie Winslow, Justise quickly established that he has the talent to become a star in his own right. By the beginning of his sophomore campaign, he'd drawn offers from Texas, Arizona, Baylor, Houston (of course), Arizona State and others.
But he kept things simmering from that standpoint, focusing instead on his high school and travel exploits. Winslow's all-around contributions impressed throughout the 2012 travel circuit, and he played his way into a national top-15 ranking.
By the end of his junior season, his offer list grew to include Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA and many others. The ball clearly belonged in his court.
Winslow's 2013 spring and summer featured him playing consistently outstanding basketball. His ability to affect a game in so many facets — and his tendency to spearhead victories — vaulted him into the conversation as arguably the best wing on his team and in the country.
Heading into the fall, he has cut his list to eight: Arizona, UCLA, Duke, Kansas, Florida, Texas A&M and Stanford.
Unlike most of the players to receive evaluations here, Winslow's primary attributes are more scattershot. He does so many things well that he's difficult to encapsulate, and that's precisely why he brings such enormous value to a team.
He's a fine scorer who uses a strong body and unyielding aggression to attack off the dribble. The southpaw is a capable finisher in traffic thanks to his muscle and admirable body control, and he possesses a soft touch to make contested shots at awkward angles. Meanwhile, he has become an adequate three-point shooter who can step in with one- and two-dribble pullups as well.
His work on the offensive glass = may prove to be just as beneficial. He gets a running start toward the rim and out-jumps and out-wills defenders for the ball, and again, he's a fine finisher in traffic who seems to like contact and then deliver from the foul line.
He's also a fantastic handler and passer for his size. That's the area he enjoys the most separation from his Hoops teammates, as Winslow can play point guard in a pinch and is a talented, unselfish playmaker. He'll never slot as a full-time lead guard, but the fact that he can play there at all underscores his versatility.
He also projects as a staunch defender. Winslow has the size, desire, quickness and instincts to lock down opposing wings and also loves to jump passing lanes to come away with steals. He'll contribute heavily to both ends of the court for that reason, and his rebounding work will pay off on defense, too.
His style of play also engenders itself to valuable leadership, and clearly his teammates and opponents respect his game.
Improving his inconsistent jump shot looms as a key. Though he has improved, that remains an uncertain element of his game and opens the window for foes to back off him and play him for the drive.
Winslow also is 6-6, so you might wonder how some of his interior work will manifest in college and potentially the NBA. He isn't a combo forward but isn't quite a pure wing, either, and if his outside-in style isn't a viable option he'll need to cultivate a more persistent perimeter attack.
Few players will be so well-equipped as freshmen. Winslow already takes a big league approach to competition, and his body is fully ready for the rigors of college hoops. And he has so many outs that, even if one aspect or another of his game doesn't work from one contest to the next, he can shift focus and deliver an entirely fresh style to boost his club.
He may need to become a more potent one-on-one scorer to thrive in the NBA, but the same can be said for just about every high school player. He's without a double an elite talent and should enjoy a sterling collegiate career for as long as he resides on campus.