Point guard Cassius Winston has been named the best college basketball player in America. This is a no-brainer to any Michigan State Spartans basketball fan, but now the national media has taken notice as well, as NCAA.com’s Andy Katz ranks Winston No. 1 in his Top-25 players countdown:
TOP 5! @TheAndyKatz's Top 25 Players countdown is complete!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) July 12, 2019
5. Cole Anthony, @UNC_Basketball
4. James Wiseman, @Memphis_MBB
3. Myles Powell, @SetonHallMBB
2. Markus Howard, @MarquetteMBB
1. Cassius Winston, @MSU_Basketball pic.twitter.com/dskRkOeXBI
Here is what Katz had to say about reigning Big Ten Player of the Year (Scroll to the 2:05 mark of the video to hear Katz talk about Winston yourself):
“(Winston) led Michigan State to the Final Four last season. This season, (Michigan State) more than likely will be the preseason No. 1. He could be possibly the preseason Player of the Year. He’s an extension of Tom Izzo. In a program that’s had exceptional point guards for decades, he could be one of the best college basketball point guards — not talking about the NBA here, not talking about any kind of future Hall of Famer — but college basketball point guards at Michigan State, he could be one of the best. He’s got a chance to leave a legacy, leave a mark, and not just get Player of the Year in the Big Ten or nationally, but take Michigan State back to a Final Four — and this time, win it.”
Winston, who was named as an All-American last season, indeed has a chance to do something special in his senior season — lead Michigan State to another national title. His play and leadership elevated the team throughout the entire season in 2018-2019, and took MSU back to the Final Four for the first time since 2015. Heading into the 2019-2020 season, Michigan State returns a ton of talent, and also brings in a highly-touted freshmen class. Because of this, MSU is expected to start out the season as the No.1 team in the NCAA, as Katz mentions.
But getting back to a Final Four, let alone winning a national championship, won’t be easy. Health will have a lot to do with it, as we all saw firsthand last year exactly how devastating injuries can be to a program. The team will also need to remain focused. Despite all of the individual accolades and hype for the team as a whole, Winston remains motivated to get better.
Per MLive, Winston had this to say:
“It’s motivating,” Winston said of the offseason accolades. “It seems so unreal, so far-fetched. Right now, I’m just chasing it, working extremely hard to try to accomplish it.”
The point guard also mentioned that he is feeling a lot better this summer, after playing 33.5 minutes per game and dealing with tendonitis in his knees during the last basketball campaign. Winston said his biggest goal for the season is just staying “100 percent” healthy for the year.
Again, it’s easy to say this team should win it all on paper, and that Winston will be the top player in college basketball, but without working hard throughout the entire season, building chemistry and camaraderie on the team and remaining healthy, it’s far from a given.
Xavier Tillman also made Katz’s list of best players, coming in at No. 20.