Recruiting & Scouting

Winston selects Michigan State over Pitt and Stanford; Winston and his family said trust in Tom Izzo was paramount

Basketball   | Tom Markowski

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Detroit – What’s refreshing about U-D Jesuit senior Cassius Winston’s decision to play for coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State is that it came down to trust.

There wasn't any talk about playing in the NBA or anything like that at Friday's news conference held at U-D.

Winston’s parents, Reggie (he prefers Reg) and Wendi, trust Izzo. In turn Izzo trusts Cassius that he will remain true to his commitment and sign his letter-of-intent in November. And Cassius trusts that Izzo will push him to be the best basketball player, and more importantly, the best person, he can be.

Winston is a 6-1 guard who has started every game for coach Pat Donnelly since his freshman year. Even as a freshman Winston was one of the state’s top players. It was his court sense, his ability to see the floor and his unselfishness that set him apart.

He is the leading candidate for the 2016 Mr. Basketball Award and is ranked No. 28 in the country by Rivals.com.

Winston recently narrowed his choices to three schools, MSU, Pittsburgh and Stanford.

“My first memory was of Izzo coming into our gym for the first time my freshman year,” Winston said. “The place went crazy. And I was like, wow, he came here to see me.

“He just stayed loyal.

“It’s a relief. There was a lot of pressure on me. My parents just led me to the right direction. And they left the final decision to me.

“Izzo is a guy I trusted. When you trust someone like that, it’s great.”

 As a player Winston is the consummate team player. He’s unselfish, sometimes to a fault. But he also has no hesitation about taking the ball to the basket when the pressure is on, as he did against Clarkston in a Class A quarterfinal last March. Winston’s layup as time expired gave the Cubs a 56-54 victory.

Wendi Winston said her son was never really a MSU fan growing up. He was just a basketball fan. His attraction to MSU came directly from Izzo.

“He doesn’t even watch the NBA,” she said of her son. “(Izzo) started wooing Cassius in the ninth grade. He was really up front. It wasn’t always about basketball, either. He would just ask about how we were doing and such.”

Wendi Winston works in Detroit as a librarian within the MSU medical school. She said this fact had nothing to do with her son’s decision and, no, she did not receive a pay raise.

Reg Winston said the recruiting process was long and often arduous. And that, in the end, the decision was Cassius’ to make. But there’s no question he’s happy his son decided to go to college close to home.

“I can jump in my car and watch him play,” he said. “My son is going to college for free. Of course I’m happy.

“It was the way we handled the process. We gave him enough time for him to feel comfortable wherever he went. It’s always been academics first. That’s why he came (to U-D). Izzo is going to hold me son accountable on the court and in the classroom.”