2016 PG Cassius Winston has committed to MSU. MSU now has the No.1 class in the nation on @247Sports— Mike Wilson (@MikeWilson247) September 18, 2015
After the news last week that Cassius Winston was no longer considering Michigan due to a commitment from point guard Xavier Simpson, Michigan State appeared to be the clear frontrunner in his recruitment. Thankfully for Spartan fans, nothing changed and he ended up announcing today that he was committing to MSU. Winston is ranked #29 by 247Sports' composite ranking and his commitment gives MSU the current #1 recruiting class in 2016. While current commit Josh Langford and current target Miles Bridges may be more highly ranked than Winston, Winston fills the biggest need for the roster going forward. With just Tum Tum Nairn as the only pure point guard on the roster, Winston will have a good chance at playing time early on. At around at 6-1 and 180 pounds he gives MSU a point guard option with bit more size than Nairn does along with a better perimeter shot. He averaged 24.2 points, 7.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds as a junior last year and here are his AAU stats from the Nike EYBL this summer:
|Cassius Winston Nike EYBL Stats|
A couple things stand out. First is that he's a very solid offensive player with both a high PPG and efficient shooting splits to go along with it. The next thing is that he looks to be committed to the defensive end with a very good 5.1 rebounds per game for a guard and a solid 2 steals per game. His 3.4 TO's per game is a little high but that's going to happen due to him having the ball in his hands so much.
Some high praise from Eric Bossi of Rivals.com from a Detroit Free Press article yesterday:
"The guy’s a winner," Bossi said of Winston. "Some people will say he’s too small or he’s not athletic enough. But he always produces, and he’s a born leader. He passes, he scores, he wins. There’s just something about him, a toughness to him. He’s going to lead a college team to a lot of wins and elevate the play of those around him."
A player comparison for Cassius Winston that I have is Indiana's Yogi Ferrell: a quick scoring point guard who's not a particularly explosive vertical athlete, but has a nice balance between scoring and creating for others. While Winston may not be as quick as Ferrell, he has a little bit more size and under Izzo he'll likely be more invested on the defensive end. Due to Winston having neither great height nor elite athleticism, it would surprise me if he left after either his freshman or sophomore year.
Update: Some comments from Winston at Scout.com:
"I called coach Izzo and told him I was coming," Winston said shortly after the announcement at the press conference. "He was really excited."
"He's been great to me," he added. "He's been loyal to me for four years. We've been building a great realtionship with him for the last four years so we are pretty close."
"Right after that visit I realized this is the place I wanted to be," Winston said.
But the Spartans aren't done. Winston visited MSU with AAU teammate, close friend and five-star wing Miles Bridges and he's already started recruiting him.
"If there's an oppotunity for him to play with me, I'd love that," Winston said. "But if he doesn't I wish the best for him."
Asked Cassius Winston about working on Miles Bridges: "That's my guy."— Mike Wilson (@MikeWilson247) September 18, 2015
Remaining 2016 targets and look at the roster
So with Winston and Nairn in the fold, MSU appears to have their point guard rotation locked down for at least the next couple years. With Valentine, Forbes, and Costello graduated, next year's starting lineup may look very different with the only sure-fire starter in my mind being Eron Harris (I'm assuming he'll stay). While Nairn still has a full year to develop, Winston may come in next year as the better offensive point guard and he may get substantial playing time as a freshman because of that aspect of his game.
With Winston now on board, MSU can focus on their filling out their 2016 class with Winston's AAU teammate and friend Miles Bridges. I said in my recruiting round-up earlier this week that I felt good about MSU's chances with Bridges and I feel even better about it now with Winston committed. Since my article came out, a couple of tweets from Indiana reporters Justin Albers and Gregg Doyel have been very good signs for MSU. However, if Bridges' decision does not go MSU's way, look for the coaching staff to go all-in on top 3 recruit Josh Jackson who may prolong his recruitment into the spring.