The “aha moment” didn’t come for Cassius Winston until he saw the trophy and then turned and faced a battery of cameras.
“First off, I just want to say: Wow! I’m actually Mr. Basketball!” the usually stoic Winston said. “Like, this is one of the things I’ve been dreaming about for a long time and it’s actually a reality.”
Winston, the 6-foot guard from U-D Jesuit who signed with Michigan State, became the 36h recipient of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award Monday at a news conference at the Detroit Free Press.
The award is given annually to the state’s top senior by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, in conjunction with the Free Press. The award is named for Hal Schram, who covered high school athletics for the Free Press for over 40 years.
Winston, who will be the 13th Mr. Basketball to play at MSU, was the runaway winner for the award, amassing 4,286 points. Onsted’s Austin Davis, who has signed with Michigan was second with 2,829 points.
Of the 1,264 votes cast, Winston captured 716 first-place votes while Davis had 304. Points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis. Only BCAM members are permitted to vote.
In his acceptance speech, Winston singled out U-D coach Pat Donnelly and his parents, Wendi and Reg, as well as his teammates.
“If you know me, you would know that I can’t take all the credit for myself,” he said. “There have been a lot of people in my life that have been there to get me what I needed to succeed, be that guidance, leadership, love support — just overall willingness to put up with me I just want to say thank you to those people.”
As a freshman, Winston came off the bench for the first few games before an injury opened a spot for him in the starting lineup and he has been a starter ever since.
He averaged 16 points a game his first season and improved to 17 as a sophomore, 21.5 as a junior and 22.5 as a senior. This season he is also averaging 5.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds.
“The biggest thing I see out of him in terms of improvement is his ability to handle pressure,” Donnelly said. “Every opposing defense is focused on him. He got double-teamed and trapped off every ball screen. He got double-teamed every time he touched the ball, but his stats improved scoring-wise, his shooting percentages went up, his assists were about the same.
“For him to be producing the way he is with the way the defense is being played on him is just kind of remarkable.”
Winning the Mr. Basketball award has been a goal for Winston since his freshman year. It was an assignment in English class that required him to list his goals for high school.
They were all basketball-related goals:
• Become Mr. Basketball
• Win four Catholic League championships
• Win a state championship
• Play in the McDonald’s All-America game.
Earlier this season, Winston became the only player in Catholic League history to start on four consecutive championship teams in the largest division. He’s also just the second CHSL player to be named Mr. Basketball, following Southgate Aquinas’ Jon Garavaglia in 1993.
And while he wasn’t chosen for the McDonald’s game, Winston will participate April 15 in the Jordan Brand Classic, another high-profile game.
His goals, however, were not listed in order of importance.
“Mr. Basketball was definitely a goal, but my biggest goal is a state championship,” Winston said. “I feel like my high school career is not successful if I don’t win a state championship.”
That is why Winston worked hard to remold his role for his senior season.
“This year I became more of a leader,” he said. “Last year was more that I was going to play my game and try to win the game like that. This year I’m trying to bring everyone with me so everyone plays at my level and my competition.
“You kind of have to build the culture that everyone has to work, has to come hard to play hard every day. It’s hard to build that kind of culture in young kids like that.”
Winston mentioned that it didn’t hurt his chances for the Mr. Basketball award when Josh Jackson and Miles Bridges, two high school All-Americas, decided to leave the state to finish their high school careers at prep schools.
“Them two leaving probably helped my being Mr. Basketball,” he said.
“I’m not going to lie like that. I stayed here, represent the state, represented my city. That’s what I tried to do.”
It worked and it is his name that is inscribed in the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award.
“Right now, at this moment, I’m the best basketball player in Michigan and it’s a great feeling and no one can take that away from me,” he said with a huge smile. “So I want to thank everyone here, thank Detroit, thank Michigan, I’m honored to be your Mr. Basketball.”
Here are the results of the 36th annual Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, given by the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan, in conjunction with the Detroit Free Press. Only BCAM members are permitted to vote. Points are awarded on a 5-3-1 basis:
1. Cassius Winston, U-D Jesuit, 4,286 points
2. Austin Davis, Onsted, 2,829 points
3. Spencer Littleson, Rochester Adams, 1,640 points
4. Corey Allen, Ypsilanti, 1,597 points
5. Karmari Newman, Detroit East English Village, 1,024 points
Past winners of the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award
2015 Deyonta Davis, Muskegon (Michigan State)
2014 Deshaun Thrower, Muskegon (Stony Brook)
2013 Monte Morris, Flint Beecher (Iowa State)
2012 Matt Costello, Bay City Western (Michigan State)
2011 Dwaun Anderson, Suttons Bay (Wagner)
2010 Keith Appling, Detroit Pershing (Michigan State)
2009 Derrick Nix, Detroit Pershing (Michigan State)
2008 Brad Redford, Frankenmuth (Xavier)
2007 Corperryale (Manny) Harris, Detroit Redford (Michigan)
2006 David Kool, Grand Rapids South Christian (Western Michigan)
2005 Wilson Chandler, Benton Harbor (De Paul)
2004 Drew Neitzel, Wyoming Park (Michigan State)
2003 Dion Harris, Detroit Redford (Michigan)
2002 Paul Davis, Rochester (Michigan State)
2001 Kelvin Torbert, Flint Northwestern (Michigan State)
2000 Marcus Taylor, Lansing Waverly (Michigan State)
1999 Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill (Michigan State)
1998 Dane Fife, Clarkston (Indiana)
1997 Shane Battier, Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Duke)
1996 Winfred Walton, Detroit Pershing (Syracuse, Fresno State)
1995 Robert Traylor, Detroit Murray-Wright (Michigan)
1994 Willie Mitchell, Detroit Pershing (Michigan, UAB)
1993 Jon Garavaglia, Southgate Aquinas (Michigan State)
1992 Kenyon Murray, Battle Creek Central (Iowa)
1991 Chris Webber, Birmingham Detroit Country Day (Michigan)
1990 Anthony Miller, Benton Harbor (Michigan State)
1989 Michael Talley, Detroit Cooley (Michigan)
1988 Matt Steigenga, Grand Rapids South Christian (Michigan State)
1987 Mark Macon, Saginaw Buena Vista (Temple)
1986 Terry Mills, Romulus (Michigan)
1985 Glen Rice, Flint Northwestern (Michigan)
1984 Demetreus Gore, Detroit Chadsey (Pittsburgh)
1983 Antoine Joubert, Detroit Southwestern (Michigan)
1982 Robert Henderson, Lansing Eastern (Michigan)
1981 Sam Vincent, Lansing Eastern (Michigan State)
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