One on one with Justise Winslow

The class of 2014 may very well be contingent on what happens in 2013, but Duke has a few offers out. Including a very recent one to Houston area star Justise Winslow. On Tuesday the five star prospect spoke to TDD about that offer and much more.

TDD: Being on the road with Team USA in Lithuania, who were you hanging out with the most?

Justise Winslow: I became good friends with a lot of the guys, but I would say I was already tight with Stephen Domingo, but I became really close with Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones on the trip.

Did you know them real well before the trip?

Yeah, we knew each other some before the trip, but we became a lot better friends while we were on the trip.

What was the reason you guys hit it off so well?

Well, me and Jahlil, we knew each other before because we played each other a lot when we were younger and Tyus and I played together in some camps. We got closer because we got to spend a lot of time together on the trip, we actually had a lot of downtime that we spent together on the trip, hanging out in the room a lot.

What was the experience like for you in traveling into foreign countries on this trip?

We went through a lot of adversity on the trip. We missed like three flights at different times, but it was cool too, we went to the Canary Islands first for a few games, so we got to go to the beach and use our real limited Spanish that we barely knew to talk with the locals, but it was good.

Lithuania was just real different, but we had to get used to it. The time change was really major for us. We'd be up until 4AM most nights, just doing nothing, being awake as we adjusted. The food was interesting, they actually had some American food, like wings and fries, but there were other times where all they had for us was Rice and other foreign foods, but the experience was still really nice.

It was really great getting to be on a team with a bunch of high level guys who all were willing to sacrifice their roles so we all had the mindset of the same goal of winning the gold medal.

Before you made it to the team you had to try out in Colorado, talk with me about earning the opportunity in that camp to wear the USA jersey, what did that mean to you?

When I first got to tryouts I was a little optimistic, but I still didn't really know how things were going to go. Once I made it though, and I saw my name on the back of the Team USA jersey, it just solidified that it was my privilege to wear it. Our coach was always telling us it's more important what's on the front of the jersey than on the back, and that's what we did, we just played hard and weren't selfish as a team.

What's it like for you getting to wear the same USA jersey that the National Team is wearing with all the NBA players representing the United States?

It means a lot, and one day I hope to be wearing the same jersey that those guys are wearing right now in London. It's really good motivation right now to see all those guys give up their shots they are used to for less shots so they can all win, that's something that I am motivated to do as well when I play.

You seemed to play the same way in AAU, willing to sacrifice like you described. Is that your philosophy?

I think with my AAU team my role is to do a lot of different things to help my team win no matter what, and in Team USA I just treat it the same. I viewed it as my role to do the dirty work, get rebounds, play defense, it was just about finding my role with Team USA and I found it pretty quickly and did it effectively.

That attitude is pretty rare Justise, why were you so willing to play that kind of role?

I just wanted to win the gold medal, that's what mattered to me the most.

Let's shift into recruiting, what are your thoughts on the new phone and text rules?

I've been enjoying it, but I don't let it go to my head. There's lots of schools contacting me.

Every player seems to like the new rules for different reasons. What are your reasons for liking it so much?

It really helps you get to know the coaches a lot better and faster than we could before.

Are you more structured with your approach to the communication, or do you just take it as it comes?

Right now I just take it as it goes, and it's not real structured right now. As things really start to pick up, I do think i'll have more structure.

Are there coaches that you already had a good relationship with that you are strengthening that relationship with them with the new rules?

Yeah, I grew up a UT fan, so I got to know Coach Barnes early on and I went to Baylor's team camp a couple years ago, so those were the coaches that I knew early on that i'm getting to know even better.

How about with coaches that you didn't know as well?

Arizona, Duke,, North Carolina, UCLA, basically all the new schools that are recruiting me, I'm strengthening the relationship with those schools.

Can you update me on who has provided committable offers so far and who hasn't offered you yet but is recruiting you?

Offers are Texas, Baylor, Xavier, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, I think that's it but i'm probably leaving some off I think.

When did the offer come in from Duke?

Like about a week ago. It was when I got back from Lithuania. One of the assistant coaches called me and let me know they liked me and that Coach K would be talking with me very soon.

When did you and Coach K get a chance to talk?

It was like two days after I had talked with the assistant coach when we got back from Lithuania. We went straight out to Vegas to meet the Olympic team and I first saw Coach K there, but we didn't really talk about recruiting there. He called me the next day and offered me a scholarship.

What was it like getting to be in Vegas and meeting the Olympic team?

It was great, the practice we went to was long and hard, but it was very competitive, it was great seeing how hard those guys worked and what it took for them to get to that level.

What did you and Coach K get to talk about?

When I was at the practice he talked with me about how he compared me to James Harden and the things he brings to the Olympic team and about my role that I had with my Team USA team. We just mainly talked about Team USA.

When Coach K offered you, what was your response?

It was an offer I was hoping to get.

What made you hope to get the offer before you received it?

It's mainly because I have interest in Duke as a program, their tradition is one of a lot of good players, the basketball there is really good.

Talking about North Carolina's interest in you, what's their approach been like so far?

They've been talking with me about my game, they haven't offered me yet, they have said they are going to look at me more this summer and evaluate me. I think and I hope they offer me. I think that they probably will offer me because I've been in contact with them a lot.

Are there schools that are indicating that a scholarship offered is on a first come, first serve basis, we've got offers to other guys at your spot type of approach?

No, nobody has said that. They all tell me take my time.

What are your thoughts on being recruited by two of college basketball's biggest rivals in Duke and North Carolina?

It's definitely interesting, those two schools are really good, I just look forward to seeing how things pan out in their recruitment.

Are you the type who is more loyal to schools that have been recruiting you for a long time, or do you approach it differently?

I'm not really like that, i'm just more deciding on what's best for me and my family.

How do you evaluate what's a good fit for you?

The coaching staff is key, the academic advisor for the team, guys they have coming into their program, what my role on the team will be.

Can you explain what you mean by guys coming in, are you looking at recruiting classes being built or more so guys that play a similar position to you that are coming in?

I'm just looking at the overall roster situation and see what my role would be. I'm not sure yet what my role in college will be, i'm just taking the recruiting process slowly, seeing what my options are.

What's your approach going to be in terms of cutting your list?

I'm hoping to do it after the summer stuff is all over. I'm hoping to cut it down but at the same time I don't want to leave anybody off in case others want to come in later.

Are there schools that haven't expressed interest yet that you are hoping to have express interest?

No, I've got most of the schools interested in me that I was hoping to have their interest.

What schools were those?

Kansas,North Carolina, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Texas, top flight schools like that.

Have you received offers from either Coach Self or Coach Calipari yet?

No, neither has offered me, but I did talk with Coach Calipari earlier this week and he did say that he's dealing with 2013 right now trying to get that class done, so he didn't want me to feel left out if he hadn't talked with me much recently.

What were your thoughts on that?

I'm not really sure yet. He's honest about it, and I think that's the most important thing.

Are there other schools that have taken a similar approach to what Coach Calipari told you?

No, nobody else has, Coach Calipari told me he needed to know what was happening with the top kids in 2013 so he could have a better handle on 2014 and what their needs are. He said they have to bring in five new players each year, so it's not insulting to me, he just doesn't know yet where my class is going to be since he's not done with 2013.

It doesn't sound like you are in any kind of rush, is that correct?

Yeah, that's correct. I'll travel when I feel like I can.

Are there any schools you know for sure you want to visit?

No, nobody yet. Being in my Top 5 is what is going to make me want to visit a school.

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