As a freshman on the basketball team, Justise Winslow led the Mavericks to their first SPC victory since 1979. Now, as senior, captain and nationally-ranked five-star small forward, Winslow prepares to embark on his NCAA basketball career.
Winslow signed his letter of intent, Nov. 19, and will announce his decision, Nov. 21, at a press conference at 3:30 p.m. in Liu Court.
Winslow contributes an average of 29 points per game. From Nov. 15 to Feb. 16, Winslow scored a whopping 1,033 points as co-captain for the SJS basketball team.
“A leader of the team does whatever it takes for the team to be successful. In practice, Justise is the hardest worker. In the huddle, he takes command,” Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Harold Baber said. “Justise is never afraid of the moment, no matter how big. Justise is the heart and soul of our team, not because he is the best player, but because he is our leader and he makes everyone around him better. He is not concerned with stats; all Justise cares about is the success of the team.”
The summer after his sophomore year, after a few days of tryouts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Winslow was named to the U17 national men’s basketball team’s 12-man roster. From there, he traveled with the U17 team to Kaunas, Lithuania to participate in the 2012 FIBA World Championships, helped the team win gold, and was subsequently named to the five-member All-FIBA U17 World Championship Team.
“It felt great to honor and represent your country and to travel the world and play the sport that you love,” Winslow said.
The summer after his junior year, Winslow tried out for the U19 national men’s basketball team and made the 12-man roster again. The national U19 team competed for the FIBA U19 World Championship, June 27–July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic.
July 7, the U19 team played their gold medal game against Serbia, won 82-68, and finished with a final standing of 9-0 out of the 16 teams that participated. The team became the FIBA U19 World Champions for the fifth time since 1979.
Winslow is a multiple position defender ranging from small forward to point guard.
“I think I made the team because the coaches saw that I could do a lot, and I’m versatile with my game,” Winslow said.
Winslow, along with Chicago’s Jahlil Okafor, was the one of the youngest players on the team. Yet Winslow still has the talent to cope with the pressure to do better.
“I just try to have role models and aspire to be to be like them,” Winslow said. “You just have to work hard to try to be a leader.”
Winslow’s achievements had humble beginnings. His father, Rickie Winslow, a retired American professional basketball player, originally advocated for Winslow to take up baseball rather than basketball. Winslow first joined a basketball team in third grade with no intentions of aspiring to become a professional basketball player.
“At the time, it was just to keep me out of trouble,” Winslow said. “During seventh grade, I started making friends with people older than me that played basketball. That was when I started getting serious.”
From that moment on, Winslow took measures to improve his skills. He now practices two to three hours a day.
“I think what sets me apart from other players is my experience and knowledge of the game,” Winslow said. “Some of it is just natural [talent], but it is a lot of hard work.”
Winslow now plays with the Houston Hoops, has been on the SJS varsity basketball team since 2010 and is a top-10 national recruit for 2014.
“I don’t look at rankings. I base [my performance] on how I play. It could really be from number one to number 15 nationally,” Winslow said.
In addition to his dream to play for the Houston Rockets, Winslow also has some short term goals planned ahead of him.
“As far as his future is concerned, it’s pretty simple. The sky is the limit. Justise is a great basketball player, but he is an even better young man. He will succeed in life whether it is the NBA, becoming a doctor, lawyer or whatever he decides to do,” Baber said. “The key for Justise is to stay humble and hungry. If he does that, he will be able to accomplish whatever he wants to in life.”
“I want to better myself as a basketball player, graduate college and get degrees,” Winslow said. “When I decide where to commit, I want to first consider academics and make sure it’s a prestigious school and go somewhere where I feel comfortable playing ball.”
For a person that aspires to be like his role models, Winslow hopes that if he plays for the NBA in a couple of years, he will also be someone that people can look up to.