Boys Basketball Preseason Top 25 Players: U-D's Winston has firm grip on his future; top contender for Mr. Basketball awardBasketball  |
Detroit – Gradually Cassius Winston has developed into a complete player. Now a senior at U-D Jesuit, Winston has been a starter since the first game of his freshman year. Even then Winston was a tremendous passer with great court vision.
Winston became more of a scoring threat by his sophomore season, to where now players can’t simply play off him and allow him to take the perimeter shot.
A 6-1 guard, Winston is State Champs! No. 1 player in its preseason top 25 and the favorite to win the 2016 Mr. Basketball award.
Winston averaged 22.3 points, 7.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds last season and he signed with Michigan State last month.
What the statistics don’t show is that Winston is a winner. The Cubs have won the Catholic League title each of the past three seasons. U-D reached a Class A regional final in Winston’s freshman year losing to Detroit Pershing, 62-60. His sophomore year the Cubs lost to Bloomfield Hills in a state semifinal and again last season the Cubs made it to the semifinals only to lose to Detroit Western.
“(This) is definitely a big year for us,” Winston said. “For me personally, it’s Mr. Basketball, a state championship and (being named a) McDonald’s All American.
“During the summer I concentrated on improving my shooting – all my shots. I’m my vocal this year, more of a leader.”
Then there’s Winston the person. It would be so easy for a player of Winston’s caliber and notoriety to be selfish, to be conceded. Even before he played his first high school game there was talk about how good he was and how good he could be. But through it all he’s remained humble, respecting the game and the footprints he’ll leave behind.
Oscar Olejniczak is the head football coach at U-D. He said as great a player than Winston is, he’s an even better person.
“He’s like that in school, too,” Olejniczak said. “He’s always willing to help. Even with the freshmen he’s willing to answer their questions and assist them.”
All the players listed below are seniors unless noted.
2. Austin Davis, Onsted, 6-10, center: Davis averaged 26 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. He signed with Michigan. Firmly trenched just below Winston, Davis weighs 232 pounds, down from 265 at the end of last season. Davis has a 4.0 grade-point average and he scored a 30 on his ACT. “He’s worked as hard as any kid I’ve been around,” coach Brad Maska said.
3. Xavier Tillman, Grand Rapids Christian, 6-8, jr., forward: Tillman weighs 260 pounds and uses that strength to muscle his way to the basket. He averaged 15.5 points and 9.7 rebounds as a sophomore. He is rated the No. 1 prospect in Michigan for 2017 class according to a number of recruiting services. “He’s worked with our strength and conditioning coach,” coach Mark Warners said. “Xavier is constantly trying to get better.” He has received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Michigan State, Purdue, Xavier and DePaul.
4. Brandon Johns, East Lansing, 6-8, so., forward: Twice Johns was invited to Colorado Springs this past summer by USA Basketball. He handles the ball like a guard and has the strength to score in the post. “He’s gotten so much better,” coach Steve Finamore said. “We have him at the two or the three and we’ll have him at the point for some plays.”
5. Kamari Newman, Detroit East English Village Prep, 6-4, guard-forward: Newman is perhaps the best shooter in the state