The U of D Jesuit Cubs made a heck of a run in the Class A state finals this March, advancing all the way to the Breslin Center before falling short to eventual state champion Detroit Western in the semifinals Friday.
Despite the loss, Reggie Winston says there’s an immense amount of excitement for the year U of D Jesuit was able to have against very tough competition.
“I told the coaches that we’re not a roster full of five-star, division one kids, we’re student-athletes and this is the best kids will have cause most won’t play at the next level,” Winston told Scout.
“It’s not just getting to the Breslin Center but we stacked the schedule with tough teams just to prepare us. We have pride even though we are disappointed. Only four teams got to that point so we’re proud for that.”
Although the Cubs’ roster isn’t filled with a collection of five-star talents, its team leader and 2016 point guard Cassius Winston -- Reggie Winston’s son -- is a student-athlete coveted highly by several top-flight college basketball programs.
Still only a junior for the Cubs, Winston was forced to play the role of a senior, guiding a very young group the entire season.
“I think as the year developed he became more vocal, tried to step up into a leadership role where as the other year he could’ve relied on seniors to have that role,” Winston said.
“He had that luxury. This year he had a lot of young players that contributed and he had to step up as far as leadership.”
Winston’s play elevated just as much, routinely leading his team in scoring including a game high 21-points in Friday’s loss to Western.
“I think his shot improved,” Winston said. “His defense improved and he still has a lot of room to grow with that but it improved. His strength and finishing around the basket, getting his players going.”
Given the local and national attention surrounding his game and eventual college decision, Winston’s father appreciates his son’s approach to the recruiting process.
“I enjoy his whole demeanor about this whole thing,” Winston said. “Not only kids but parents can get a big head about things and if you do you focus on things that aren’t important.
“Him being humble and keeping his eye on the prize, I would like to take credit for it but my wife wouldn’t let me.”
Visiting both Michigan and Michigan State more than a handful of times over the last two years, the Winston’s are keeping a close eye on both programs.
“I think he’s doing a great job getting his players to get to where they’re at,” Winston said.
“I’m like everybody else, seeing them going through trial and tribulations and struggles you didn’t know how far they’re going so for them to be where they’re at, that’s great work by Coach Izzo.”
Michigan’s season ended without a Sweet Sixteen appearance for the first time since 2012, finishing just 16-16 overall.
Regardless, Winston paid close attention to the Wolverines this year, understanding some of the issues plaguing a young team in Ann Arbor.
“Once again, we’re not really looking at the wins and losses and how far you go, we’re looking at the growth of the team,” Winston said. “With all the injuries and people they were relying on, things out of their control, they competed hard every game.
“They came up short and had some close losses but they competed hard and you can tell you can see the growth of the players from beginning to end.”
Moving forward in the recruiting process, Winston plans to sit down as a family in order to discuss what could be next.
Anyone waiting for a decision soon will likely be required to show some more patience.
“We don’t have any visits planned,” Winston said. “We said once the season is over we would sit down and talk about the places we would want to go. We’re not going to make any decisions until he takes the five official visits he’s allotted.
“Ultimately, it’ll be his decision and we want him to make as educated a decision as possible. The academics part is very important and fortunately the schools that are talking to him are great academic schools.”