At the start of next year, Justise Winslow will take the backseat to other freshman stars Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, but it is Winslow that may be the biggest key to Duke’s success.
Winslow is a 6-6 lefty SF looking to bolster Duke basketball’s number one ranked recruiting class for the upcoming season. Winslow impressed at St. John’s high school in Houston where he displayed his ability to crash the boards while playing tenacious defense at multiple positions. In his senior season he averaged 27.5 points per game while snagging just over 13.5 boards.
Justise was ranked as the #14 overall prospect in ESPNU Top 100, and by the end of this season will prove he should have been in the top five. When he validates his athletic prowess with effortless slams and proves he can guard anyone in the country, there’s no reason why he couldn’t wind up starting for the Blue Devils.
The strongest part of his game is on the back end of the floor, where his length clogs up passing lanes, and surprises opponents. He is an above average passer, and will take a liking to feeding Okafor down low, while providing another option on offense. Winslow’s motor also stands out, and his game is very comparable to former freshman star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Alongside the improved Amile Jefferson and wonderkind Okafor, Justise will no doubt have space to work with next season. Most of the focus in the paint will go to Okafor, and free up space on the edges for Winslow to go to work. With Tyus Jones, Rasheed Suliamon and Quinn Cook knocking down shots, the Dukies will be tough to match up with.
In the recent FIBA Americas 18-Under championship game, Winslow impressed with 20 points and 10 rebounds, to go with four steals and two assists as the US thrashed Canada 113-79 to win a gold medal.
Team USA’s Coach Billy Dollovan says Winslow’s consistency and leadership will lead to more success. Winslow’s basketball IQ is uncanny, and isn’t affected by the ups and downs of a game. The determined Coach K sure hopes Winslow plays a key role on his way toward his 1,000th win and another title.
Winslow isn’t a dumb jock either, he feels that being an Academic All-American goes hand in hand with future success on the basketball court.
I look for this Duke squad to be in the championship conversation all season once Coach K figures out each players role, and has them playing their best ball come March. Winslow will give the Blue Devils that extra burst that will take just enough pressure of Okafor and Suliamon to get Duke over the hump. Add in Tyus Jones’ ability to push the ball up the floor and Coach K has an exciting, athletic squad. Winslow is arguably the best athlete in the ACC, and itching prove it on a team that will be in the spotlight a lot next season.