Hype and expectations can be limiting factors for even the most seasoned of players. That’s why the year being had by U of D Jesuit freshman, Cassius Winston is all the more impressive. The 6-0 170 lb. floor general has exhibited veteran-like poise all season, and that’s despite a bulls-eye being placed squarely on his back the moment he stepped onto the high school floor.
“I kind of knew that was going to happen -- that I was going to be the main attraction or something like that, but I’ve just got to live up to the hype,” Winston said matter-of-factly. “I’ve got the family supporting me so it’s nothing. I just keep my head up and stay working hard.”
That hard work continues to pay off on the court for both Winston and his team. Last weekend the talented youngster steered his Cubs to their first Detroit Catholic league title in 21 years.
“I sensed we needed to score so I tried to score a little bit,” he said after notching 15 points in the 58-39 victory over A.J. Turner and Warren De La Salle. “It got momentum going. After that, the team just clicked. It was over from there.”
While U of D went on the fall to undefeated Detroit Pershing in the Operation Friendship games (the annual event that pits the Detroit Catholic League champ and runner up against the Detroit Public School league champ and runner up), a few days later, excitement is still high over what Winston and his Cubs have done.
“(Things are) great so far,” stated Winston. “It’s going better than I thought it would. Everybody is bigger and stronger. That’s really it. I had the skill work down, but other than that it’s speed and strength.”
Winston has overcome those physical disadvantages with a floor game that was already mature beyond its years as when he entered high school. Over the course of the year it has become even more so.
“My decision making basically,” responded Winston when asked what aspect of his game has improved the most. “I find the open man a lot [and] make the right decision to slow down or speed up. That’s basically learned to figure out.”
“I guess everyone says I play slow, relaxed and cool. I guess I fit that description. Nothing really rattles me. I just go out there and go play.”
That he still has three years of high school ahead of him hasn’t stopped college coaches from already taking notice. He has similarly taken notice of them when they’ve dropped in on his games throughout the year.
“Sometimes I catch a couple Michigan shirts or Georgetown shirts. I saw Georgetown over there (last Sunday). I catch a little glimpse. I just stay relaxed [and] play my game.”
Winston hasn’t returned the visit favor very often to date, but he’ll be adding another stop to his ledger Sunday afternoon.
While those in-state programs obviously have proximity on their side, the class of 2016 standout warns against casting any team as his early favorite.
“I’m just keeping my options open,” he stated. “(The final decision will be based on) coaching staff basically. As long as they fit right for me, that’s where I’m going to go.”
To view the video interview Winston, including highlights of his 15 point performance against Warren De La Salle, press play below.
Video interview and highlights by Roscoe Hill