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Former MSU guard Cassius Winston recalls U-M recruitment: ‘A little too soft for me’

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The former Spartans spoke his mind on the Michigan basketball program

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Cassius Winston is on his way to the NBA after graduating from Michigan State this fall, and boy are Michigan Wolverines fans happy about that. The two-time consensus All-American was a menace for Michigan defenders as he averaged over 17 points and 5 assists per game in his four seasons in East Lansing. Although the two programs split the 10 games they played against each other in the past four years, for the final three a ton of game-planning went to slow down the Spartans point guard.

University of Detroit Jesuit High School was where Winston played in his high school days, and where he grew to be an academic prowess, earning some impressive offers from academic powerhouses like Stanford, Harvard, and Michigan. But according to The Game Theory Podcast with Sam Vecenie from The Athletic, education wasn’t Winston’s No. 1 priority, and he didn’t think those schools could produce NBA talent:

“My mom was huge on education. That’s what is going to set you up for the rest of your life. She didn’t understand how big basketball was and how many things you can accomplish by being successful at basketball... When you got schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Michigan trying to pay for your education, she was like all on board for that. Me and my pops were like, “Nah that’s cool but, you know what I’m saying, we tryin’ to get to the NBA. That’s really where we tryin’ to go.’”

But Winston continued to consider the Wolverines and cut his list down to just the two arch-rivals in his home state. After visiting both Winston had made up his mind:

“At the end of my decision, it was Michigan and Michigan State, and Michigan was kind of just like a little too, like, soft for me.”

What did Winston mean by that? Well, he came up with the principle-based on how he was treated on his visits, specifically during open gyms.

“The best example I can give is; I go to an open gym at Michigan when I’m a junior or senior (in high school) or whatever. It was almost like they were trying to like sell me to come, being fans, giving me compliments, things like that at the open gym. Then, I go to open gym at Michigan State and it was more of like a ‘who are you?’ type of like a ‘you don’t belong here and if you do you need to prove that you belong on this court.’ I was kind of like, alright, that’s where I need to be. That’s the environment I like to be in.”

A program shift has happened since Winston was in high school with Juwan Howard now being the head of the program in Ann Arbor. But this is a nasty shot from a former in-state recruit in the Detroit area as the Wolverines have already missed out on some of the biggest names in-state for the next few recruiting classes.