Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor are the only high school players in training camp with the U.S. U19 team.
That seems to make perfect sense since the pair are talking about a potential package deal to college that could also include Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones.
“So far it’s been great,” Winslow, a 6-foot-6 forward from Houston St. John’s High School, told SNY.tv by phone from Colorado Springs, Colo.
“It’s a little adjustment playing against guys that are stronger, faster and the game’s quicker, but I made the adjustment and I think it’s been going great so far. I’ve been getting better and I think it’s definitely going to help me in the long term.”
U19 and Florida head coach Billy Donovan will trim the 26-man group on Sunday morning and it remains unclear if Winslow will make the cut.
Until now, the experience has been valuable for Winslow, who has been guarding college players like Brandon Ashley of Arizona, Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Rasheed Sulaimon of Duke.
“It’s been great so far,” Winslow said of his experience with the 6-10 Okafor, who seems a lock to make the team. “The guys have been cool, getting to know us and stuff like that. But being the younger guys, we don’t try to use that to say if we don’t make the team, it’s because we’re younger. We just want to make the team no excuses and get it done.”
As far as colleges, Winslow is still considering 10 schools: Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Florida, Houston, Kansas, North Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA.
There has been much talk about a potential three-man package involving Okafor, Jones and Winslow, with Duke perceived as the leader for the first two.
“I mean, it’s something we talk about,” Winslow said of the potential package. “All three of us have to do what’s best for us, and if it just so happens that we all go to the same school, then that will be great.”
Duke and Arizona have been linked the most to Winslow, but he says, “I would say pretty much all the schools are coming at me hard at this point. People just like to focus on those two [Duke and Arizona] but I would say all the schools are coming at me equally hard.”
Winslow recently visited both UCLA and Duke.
As for UCLA, he said, “It went great. With the new coaching staff [led by Steve Alford], I got to meet them in person. I had an in-home with them. I just got to know the guys and the coaching staff, which is pretty important.”
As for Duke, he said, “I just started to build on some of the relationships I already had with some of the players and the coaches and some of the foreign players I just got to pick their brains about things.”
Arizona is also heavily in the mix.
“They’re pretty much the same as everybody else,” he said. “They’re just recruiting me as hard as anybody else.”
Winslow said he speaks with Okafor and Jones “once every two weeks” about the recruiting process.
“Not too much but we talk about it,” he said. “With Jahlil being out here, we talk about going to the same school and stuff like that.”
For now, Winslow is hoping to make the final cut with the mostly older guys.
“It would be great,” he said. “It would get me a lot better just playing against older guys out there overseas. It would just get me stronger, faster and really speed my game up and get me ready for the college level.”
**For more stories on the USA U19 & U16 teams, click here.