One on one with Justise Winslow

Recently ranked as a five star prospect and the nation's No. 10 overall player in the class of 2014, Houston's Justise Winslow has no shortage of schools making their early pitches. After a stellar summer circuit, Winslow has enjoyed some down time before heading into his high school season. He spoke of that and much more recently with TDD.

TDD: Can you recap how the summer has wound down for you?

Jusitse Winslow: Things have been going well for me. I've taken the last couple of weeks off to let my body recover from a long summer. The latest with my recruitment is North Carolina has offered and Kansas has offered me very recently. That came in two days ago. Coach Roberts called me and let me know that Coach Self was going to be calling me to offer me. Coach Self hasn't called yet, but he will be soon, his assistant coach said he's been very busy lately, but he said they are offering me.

How long has Kansas been recruiting you?

They've been recruiting me for awhile, and it's been a long process with Kansas so far. I'm real excited to get an offer from them because they have a great tradition,and they are a top program. Most of their players aren't one and done players, either. They have a lot of guys who stay three or four years, but if that's the type of program I'm interested in playing for. They are a good school, and Coach Self is a great coach. He's very intense, and he gets the best out of his players, it's a school that could benefit me as a player.

What's your mindset when it comes to being a one and done guy versus staying for longer?

I'm really not sure right now. It all depends on how much better I get and what my family thinks. Education is the most important thing, and I'm just trying to get into college, that's the first thing.

Do you find yourself of your fellow players labeling different schools as places where one and done guys are more likely to go?

I haven't really thought about that. For me, I don't have any bias or hard feelings towards any schools, and I don' think those one and done schools are the best options or anything. All my schools are equal.

At some point, however, you have to think that a school would pitch their track record of producing pros, right?

I don't pay too much attention to it, but you do hear those numbers about how many draft picks that schools have and how many pros they have overall. It's not something I pay much mind to though. I'm not going to pick a school based on what they produced in the past, I'm looking at what they are saying to me about how they can develop me as a player.

When talking about development, and ability to help you be a professional, do schools pitch their track records with where guys are drafted?

They do, but It's not a huge difference between a top 10 and top 20 history. That being said, it does increase my interest when a school has more NBA players than overseas guys.

Has Coach Calipari at Kentucky talk with you about their track record of their guys going in the 1st round?

Yes, he definitely talks about his ability at Kentucky to produce players who succeed at the college level and prepare to be impact players in the pros. It's something they try to pitch all the top players on to come to Kentucky. I'm not trying to say that I like that or dislike that, I just see that approach coming from them and to the other top guys in my class.

What does he point to when he talks about developing those players who have gone pro from Kentucky under his coaching?

He basically points to how he brings together top players each year, building the best team, having intense practices, he said that at almost every practice you'll see two or three NBA scouts there. He also said Kentucky is not for everybody.

How do you respond to that pitch?

It's something you look at because they've had a lot of guys go pro, but he's also not recruiting some of the guys that I know because he's said, Kentucky is not for everybody. Some of these schools seem to offer a lot of people, but with Kentucky, Coach Calipari says they are trying to recruit the best and compete for a national championship each year.

Since you've talked in the past about playing together with them, have they had much communication with Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor?

They have contact with all of us, but I think they have offered Tyus, that's pretty good, but I'm not sure about their interest with Jahlil.

Did they offer Tyus recently?

I'm not sure if they have offered yet for sure, I had a friend tell me today that he had heard Kentucky had offered Tyus, but I haven't had a chance to talk with him about it yet.

Is the idea of forming a "Big 3" still something you guys are talking about?

It absolutely is. We are still talking about it, as recently as a few days ago.

How did the recent trip to Los Angeles go for you and Jahlil?

That went really good. I had a chance to spend some time with him and visit UCLA and I actually just found out that I'm going to be rooming with Tyus at the Elite 24 event this month.

I saw a picture of the invite ball that Elite 24 sent to the players, is that the most creative invite you've ever received?

Yeah, normally it's just an email to your coach or your parents, it's really cool and unique to get something like that.

What was your reaction to the invite?

It's a real honor, not everybody gets invited to that event. It's going to be a lot of fun, especially with the pro guys out there and getting to be on TV. I'm looking forward to playing against everybody because this may be the only time I get to do this.

Circling back to the UCLA visit, who did you get a chance to interact with?

We had a lot of interaction with the coaches. My mother was with, me and my brother lives in LA, so he was there as well. Also we had Jahlil and his dad, we sat down with Coach Howland and he talked about recruiting and the UCLA brand. He even walked with us on our tour of the UCLA campus too.

What brought your brother to LA?

He works in the entertainment industry. He is an assistant to Kenny Smith. He's hands off with the recruiting stuff though. The rest of my family helps me along the way.

How much would a local support system factor into a decision?

It's a plus to know he'd be there to look after me, but it's not the biggest thing in my recruitment. If I did decide to go to UCLA it'd be a positive, but location isn't a big deal to me in my decision.

How much interaction did you have with the players?

Yeah we got to meet all the players and we hung out with Shabazz and Kyle Anderson. I knew Shabazz a little bit before, and they talked a little bit about their recruiting experience. They are good guys off the court. They let me know you can't always believe what coaches are telling me, but most of the time it was just hanging out.

Do you have any more visits coming up?

Well, with the new rules, I think my high school team is going to be doing workouts in September where college coaches can come in and watch us work out, those will be morning workouts I think. It won't be an open gym.

Did any schools indicate they are coming in during that time?

Yes, most definitely. Baylor has said they are coming, so has Texas, Duke, North Carolina, Arizona.

Are you going to do more unofficial visits before school starts?

Yeah, I'm trying to get two more visits done, like to Duke or Ohio State or Florida. I want to see campuses yet that I haven't seen yet.

Have you set a date yet for any of those schools?

I'm close, but not yet. I'm waiting on my class schedule and practice schedule so I can see where my openings are, what days I have off, just trying to make it easier.

How's the dialogue been with Duke?

It's been with Coach K, and some of the assistants. I hung out with Rasheed Sulaimon the other day, that was cool. Their contact with me has picked up since they offered me. They are recruiting me very hard.

How much communication has there been with Coach K?

There's been a good amount. They got back from the Olympics on Monday and  he called me the next day. He talked with me about my game and how my game can benefit at Duke and how he wants me to be one of the first guys to get out and visit the campus.

Did he talk much about Team USA?

Yeah, he talked with me about his experience and also mine as well and how they were similar with both teams winning gold medals. He talked to me about Durant and how our games are similar. That's a player I try to model parts of my game after, he talked about how my versatility can help me as a player.

There was a recent article that polled a bunch of college coaches on whether it's a recruiting advantage for Coach K to coach the Olympic team, from a recruit perspective, is such an advantage something you see?

I never really thought about it much before, but now that I've text messaged a lot with Coach K we do get to talk about the Team USA guys and how they play, that benefits me to hear. At the same time, college comes first, I don't see it as a big deal in my decision, but I could see how some coaches might be jealous.

When you think about what the professionals are saying, it definitely builds the Coach K and Duke reputation. But I also don't want to say that none of the other coaches recruiting me aren't good coaches, because they are. It is something that I do look at though, it boosts his reputation. The thing with Coach K is that when he talks about Team USA, he doesn't talk about himself and what he did, he just talks about the players and what they accomplished, he doesn't look to take any of the praise, which is great to see, he's very humble about it when he talks with me, he talks about the players and what they did.

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