NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- ESPN 60 small forward Justise Winslow (Houston/St. John’s) spent a portion of the summer winning the gold medal for USA Basketball’s U-17 team in Lithuania. After he won his gold, he and his teammates had a chance to meet up with the big boys.
"After the trip we went to Las Vegas and we got to meet the Olympic team,” Winslow said. “Coach K told us to keep working hard and being on the U-17 was a good step toward making the Olympic team one day. It was real motivating seeing LeBron, Carmelo, Kobe and Kevin Durant playing together, being unselfish and trying to win gold."
Shortly after meeting the team, Winslow learned USA’s coach wanted him for his Duke squad. “It actually happened the night we got to Las Vegas,” Winslow said of Duke’s offer. “An assistant coach texted me and said that Coach K would be calling soon and offering a scholarship. The next day I saw him and he didn’t mention anything about the scholarship, mostly USA Basketball. A couple days later on his off time from the Olympic team he called and offered me a scholarship.”
Duke is not alone in making a scholarship offer to the No. 11 overall (and rising) prospect in the 2014 class. Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Georgetown, Arizona State, LSU, Rice, Houston and Rice offered.
Winslow’s father was a founding member of Houston’s famed Phi Slamma Jamma. “He has a big influence on my game and the way I mentally prepare for the games. He gives me tips on how I can keep my fingertips on every game.”
Football or hoops?
Brian Bridgewater (Baton Rouge, La./Episcopal) has been playing wide receiver exactly one year. In the short span -- and this is incredible -- he’s managed to wrangle offers from football giants LSU and Alabama. “People say I’m a better football prospect,” Bridgewater said. Regardless, he’s got a decision to make and it’s not an easy one. Hoops is his first love.
Arizona, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Marquette like him as a combo forward, a rugged, hard-playing tough guy.
Murray State head coach Steve Prohm stood anxiously watching from the baseline. Cameron Payne (Memphis, Tenn./Lausanne), the Racers' top target, was on display for all to see. At this point, Prohm knows the stakes. He’s sitting on a potential all-league player and his Racers are the team to beat.
“They win games and got a good coach,” Payne said afterwards, excited to talk about the Racers. “They lead.” Jacksonville, Arkansas State, Chattanooga and Appalachian State are providing the competition.
Speaking of mid-major deluxes, someone is going to sign a fine player in Kris Yanku (Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft). Self-dubbed, the “Turkish Mamba,” Yanku is a valuable player for California Supreme. He’s not the go-to guy but he might be one day when he finds his college home.
He has offers from Drake, Towson and UNC-Greensboro while Portland, Irvine, Riverside, San Jose State, Northern Arizona and Hawaii look on? What are they waiting for? This kid knows his role, has a college frame and he’s valuable first as a shooting guard but also as a combo.
Scholarship goes to ...
Marvin Clark (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs) came off the bench in a pool-play game for MoKan on Saturday and scored nine points to go with 13 rebounds. He's not a prominent starter on the team, but his spirited play, strong body and effort caught my eye. Why isn't he a strong mid-level energy guy? Surrounded by some elite players, Clark, in my mind, earned mid-major looks as a 6-5 undersized 4-man. He's a glue guy, the kind that might knock back the occasional 3-pointer and provide you with energy. On a big stage, he's playing his role. It's not huge, but on Saturday he owned it.