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SportzBuzz - March 2016

Todd
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Justise Winslow

Former St. John’s basketball star Justise Winslow was back on the home court  to have his  jersey retired during a special halftime ceremony at the Mavericks gym. The Miami Heat rookie led St. John’s to a trio of SPC titles before winning a national championship with the Duke Blue Devils. (Photo: Kevin Long/Gulf Coast Shots)

For the St. John’s Mavericks, “Justise” prevails. Justise, in this case, refers to former St. John’s basketball star Justise Winslow, who had his #42 jersey retired during a special halftime ceremony last month at his high school alma mater.

“It was a great moment to share with my family, friends and the whole St. John’s community,” said Winslow. “It’s an honor to have my jersey retired, but it’s really the memories that are going to stand with me the most.”

Only two years removed from his senior year at St. John’s, Winslow is currently a standout rookie for the NBA’s Miami Heat. It was just last year when he helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to a college basketball national championship.

“It’s really crazy the way time flies, graduating from St. John’s just a couple of years ago, and then struggling early on in my college career. But just the gift we have to take advantage of opportunities and make the most of them is probably what got me to where I am today.”

In his decorated high school career at St. John’s, Winslow was twice named the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year, won two world FIBA titles and played in the McDonald’s All-American game. But, even with all those accolades and then an NCAA championship at Duke, it’s one remarkable game against Episcopal as a high school freshman that Winslow treasures the most.

“Just as far as games played, that game my freshman year is definitely my favorite. It was an incredible moment.”

In that game, Winslow lit up the scoreboard for 43 points. Then, while driving to the basket with the game tied in the final seconds, Winslow passed the ball to his older brother Josh, who scored the winning basket one second before the final buzzer. The St. John’s fans stormed the court as the Mavericks celebrated their first SPC basketball title in 21 years.

“That was so great for my family and my brother, who played two sports and had never won a state championship. For us to literally link up for the winning score in the championship game was really a cool moment. It was an amazing experience and memory that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

There were certainly new memories to draw on before a packed gymnasium for the jersey-retirement ceremony, where Winslow was swarmed by young autograph-seeking fans from St. John’s School.

“That’s a cool moment. Ten years ago I was one of those kids asking for autographs. It’s just great to be someone that kids or even your peers can look up to. For me, outside of basketball one of my biggest goals is to be a role model and just be someone who makes a positive impact in the community. It’s so cool having kids want to be like you.”

Right now, Winslow also wants to make a name for himself in the NBA, although it can be a challenging transition for a player who, remarkably enough, is still only 19 years old. “I get the young jokes from my Miami Heat teammates all the time. They still can’t believe I’m only 19. I’ve had to mature faster in certain areas on and off the court. It’s really about becoming a man and understanding my priorities and the professionalism that comes with playing in the NBA.”  

As  he adjusts to life in the NBA as a Miami Heat rookie, Winslow maintains his deeply rooted connection to St. John’s and his hometown of Houston.

“Houston will always be home,” he said. “This city means the world to me. My school and my city made me who I am today. My personality and my culture are all a result of growing up here. Houston and St. John’s will always have a special place in my heart.” 

Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Award-winning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email todd@thebuzzmagazines.com.

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