Chase Winovich the basketball prospect? The Keystone state star will laughingly admit that is a bit of an overstatement, but he certainly would agree with those that describe him as a glue guy. The future Wolverine put his hardwood skills on display when he traveled to Michigan a few weeks back. Before making his way to Ann Arbor on June 16th he helped lead his summer league team, the Duquesne Serbs to a tournament title at Macomb Community College. GoBlueWolverine was on hand for his semifinal match during which his defense and physical play were on full display.
“It was definitely a hard fought match,” Winovich said afterward. “I don’t think the referees were with us. You can’t really complain about that. You’ve just got to play. I think we fought through some adversity there with a smaller team compared to everyone on their team that has some size. We found a way to win by hustling and we got some shots that fell. Last game they weren’t falling. We just kept working and we ran what we wanted to run and we ultimately got the victory.”
Winovich set a gritty tone for his team with his relentlessness. All the while his gridiron roots were often evident in his play.
“I think in summer league games where there’s no foul limit I’m a little more aggressive,” Winovich said with a smile. “I think I get more steals because of it. It’s more like a football game. When I play organized basketball it’s more using your head. You can’t get into foul trouble so it’s about outsmarting your opponent. Making you opponent think you’re going that way and going the other and using my quickness and strength to beat guys may be taller than me or sometimes even stronger than me. It’s just about outsmarting your opponents.”
That’s an approach that might serve the Michigan basketball team well. Much was made of the admiration Brady Hoke has for Mitch McGary. What if John Beilein were to hold Winovich in similar regard?
“I’d have to stick with football,” Winovich responded laughingly. “I think football is my ticket. I play basketball for fun and competition. I think football is ultimately my ticket. I love football because I can let loose and go hit somebody. You really can’t do that in basketball.”
So even though a linebacker could actually be of some use on the hardwood in rough and rugged Big Ten, Winovich’s competitive days in Ann Arbor will be spent in the Big House. His excitement about that fact still hasn’t died down.
“I think it’s starting to sink in more and more,” he stated. “I’ll be somewhere and people will come up and recognize me and say, “Congratulations on the commitment.” But at the same time it comes with a lot of responsibility. So I’m just trying to take it one step at a time, more and more focus on the season coming up, and ultimately training for college.”
While he is certainly fully committed to spending his college days in Ann Arbor, some of his other suitors aren’t ready to take no for an answer. For his part Winovich insists such efforts are an exercise in futility. His relationships with his future coaches are just too strong.
“Other schools have contacted me… some schools a little more bitter than others,” he said. “Mostly, schools are congratulatory and they’re very happy for my commitment. Other schools, they’ll message me on Facebook or call me and they’ll say, “If anything changes, we’ll be here.” Like I said before, I’m pretty happy about me commitment. They’re dangling the hook. They always say, 'It’s a long process', which is true. You never know what happens. But I’ve got to be confident about my decision. It wasn’t easy. I thought it over and I thought I made the right choice."
“Coach (Roy) Manning and Coach (Greg) Mattison… they had the most to do with it. Coach (Darrell) Funk as well. On my first visit, Coach Funk spent his whole Sunday with me. It was his only day off. He showed me around the place and took me to a basketball game. They all showed interest and wrote me dozens of letters and really took the time. A lot of coaches did. Between Coach Manning, Coach Mattison and Coach Funk, they really put on a good front for Michigan and represented it well.”
“Coach Manning has enthusiasm that’s pretty uncanny. I don’t know if I’ve met a coach with more enthusiasm about football and his job than him. I spoke in an interview and I said, “It’s contagious.” And it really is. It trickles down to everybody. He really knows what he’s talking about. When he preaches I think the players listen.”
Now Winovich is doing a little preaching of his own. He is busy espousing the virtues of Michigan in hopes of luring others into the fold.
“I feel great right now about being Blue,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. I’m so excited to get on campus. And even before that, start preparing for the season. Just everything about Michigan is great.”
For video of Winovich in action on the basketball floor, press play below.
Video highlights by Roscoe Hill