CBS Sports continued its annual Candid Coaches series and released its most recent results on Monday. This release was centered around who the anonymous respondents viewed as the best player in college basketball heading into this upcoming season. Of the respondents, exactly 50% voted Michigan State’s Cassius Winston as the best player this coming year.
Winston arrived in East Lansing by way of Detroit and came with high expectations, coming in as the 31st-ranked recruit in the 2016 class. Winston came in off the bench his freshman year before earning a starting role in his sophomore season. The floor general came into the 2018-19 season with high expectations and delivered, being named the Big Ten Player of the Year after averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 assists per game. This past season also earned him second team All-American honors. He helped lead the Spartans to the Final Four before being knocked out by eventual runners-up, Texas Tech.
The respondents credited Winston for his ability to control the game and stay poised, rather than dominating the game on pure athleticism. One anonymous individual was quoted saying, “Winston. No one controls the pace and tempo of a game like him.” Another said, “There will be guys that may have better numbers but no one will do more to help his team and raise the level of play for his teammates individually and collectively. If I had to build a program for the year, he’s the guy I am taking first.”
There was a significant gap between Winston and the next leading vote-getter. Marquette’s Markus Howard received 13% of the votes, followed by Cole Anthony (North Carolina), Anthony Edwards (Georgia), Myles Powell (Seton Hall), and James Wiseman (Memphis).
Winston looks to live up to the expectations as Michigan State enters the season ranked #1 overall. We will see if he can lead them to another Final Four, or further.