It says a lot about the talent in Houston when the third-highest ranked wing for an AAU team is a national top-10 prospect. But such was the situation with the Houston Hoops last year, with featured Kelly Oubre (Kansas), Justin Jackson (North Carolina) and the subject of this piece, Justise Winslow.
Of course, noting that Winslow is third among that trio is a bit dubious. Any of the three could emerge as the most successful long-term player, and arguments rage as to which possesses the most potential.
But there's a consensus that any or all three could become freshman impact players next season. Winslow competes with a style all his own, relying on rugged athleticism, superb instincts and a developing skill package that he utilizes to produce consistent numbers.
He has put his full talents on display as a senior. He averaged roughly 28 points per game this season for Houston (Texas) St. John's and led his club to its third SPC title in four years, compiling a triple double in the tournament.
Winslow's inconsistent jump shot remains the primary point of concern. Will the southpaw knock them in at a school that typically builds its offense around perimeter shooting?
To answer that question, two major points require consideration. Duke has had success with athletic wings who weren't pure shooters, including Gerald Henderson and, reaching into the vault, Grant Hill. Winslow should play a role similar to the one Henderson did for the Blue Devils, though he's actually a superior ballhandler and passer.
Meanwhile, at least in 2014-15, Duke likely won't be as three-point oriented as has become custom. With No. 1 overall player Jahlil Okafor on his way to campus to hold down the middle, Duke's offense is likely to strike a more conventional balance and open up the middle areas and offensive glass — areas where Winslow excels.
Sandwiching him between an elite center and elite point guard (Tyus Jones) should enhance his ability to contribute early. Assuming he spends more than one season on campus — and that Okafor and likely Jones don't — he could play for a more classically composed Blue Devil squad as a sophomore.
First things first, however, he'll finish up his prep career and make key postseason appearances, including at the McDonald's All-American Game.