Justise Winslow Picks Duke

Justise Winslow, one of the top small forwards in the Class of 2014, has signed with Duke.

In less than a week, Duke’s 2014 basketball recruiting has switched adjectives from “potentially disappointing” to “potentially historic.”

Last Friday the Blue Devils got their first dose of good news when the package deal of Tyus Jones (Brick Oettinger’s No. 3 2014 point guard) and Jahlil Okafor (Brick’s No. 1 center) announced their intention to sign with Duke. Wednesday afternoon the Blue Devils added more elite talent when Justise Winslow (Brick’s No. 3 wing forward) picked the Blue Devils. 

“Next year I will be attending Duke University to play for Coach K,” Winslow said at an announcement held at his high school, Houston (Texas) St. John’s. 

Winslow, Jones and Okafor are all friends from the travel team circuit, and took their official visits to Duke on the same weekend. . But while Jones and Okafor had been publicly adamant about their plans to attend the same school together, the 6-6 Winslow had been much less emphatic. It would be nice, he had said, but he also planned to explore his options.

The options for Winslow included Arizona, Florida, Stanford, UCLA and Texas A&M. Arizona, in particular, was thought to be a strong contender for Winslow.

While Winslow wasn’t set on following in the path of Jones and Okafor, their decision to attend Duke certainly didn’t hurt the Blue Devils’ cause. Getting a chance to watch Duke forwards Rodney Hood (21.8 ppg) and Jabari Parker (22.4 ppg) flourish in Mike Krzyzewski’s system likley also helped. 

Scout.com (and former ACCSports.com) recruiting analyst Rob Harrington wrote a detailed evaluation of Winslow’s game back in August. Here’s some of what Harrington wrote:

He’s a fine scorer who uses a strong body and unyielding aggression to attack off the dribble. The southpaw is a capable finisher in traffic thanks to his muscle and admirable body control, and he possesses a soft touch to make contested shots at awkward angles. Meanwhile, he has become an adequate three-point shooter who can step in with one- and two-dribble pullups as well.

Harrington also praised Winslow’s ability to defend and to pound the offensive glass. There were a few weaknesses in Winslow’s game, including an inconsistent jumper and a game that seemed to fall somewhere between small forward and power forward. Still, it’s clear Duke’s getting a very valuable addition.

Winslow becomes the fourth member of Dukes’ 2014 class, joining the aforementioned Jones and Okafor, as well as shooting guard Grayson Allen. who picked the Blue Devils way back in April. 

This impressive four-man class has, not suprisingly, led to plenty of hyperbole and some declarations that it may be Duke’s best ever. That’s jumping the gun considering the competition includes: the 1982 class, led by Johnny Dawkins, that made up the core of the Duke 1986 runner-up squad; the 1997 class, led by Elton Brand and Shane Battier, that produced three lottery picks; and the 1999 class, which incuded Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy.

Could this 2014 group join that lofty company? It’s too early to make those judgments. For now, Duke’s content just to feel giddy about its basketball future. 

“We’re ecstatic about the four young men that are coming to Duke,” Mike Krzyzewski said in a press release put out by the school moments after Winslow’s announcement. 

Check below for highlights of Winslow in action.