photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Jeff Uveino
When Justin Winston committed to play basketball at St. Bonaventure in September 2018, he became the third Putnam Science Academy graduate in two years to do so.
The “Putnam Pipeline” to SBU has been talked about repeatedly since the arrival of Winston, following Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi’s commitment the year before.
For Winston, the campus nestled in the foothills of the Enchanted Mountains felt like home.
“You can compare (Bonaventure) to Putnam because it’s a small school,” Winston said. “It’s a place where you can always work to get better as a player and as a person.”
The West Orange, New Jersey native, rated a four-star recruit by ESPN, stands at 6’8 and weighs 215 pounds.
In his senior year of high school at Immaculate Conception, Winston averaged 15 points per game.
Winston said that he saw Bona as the perfect situation to develop himself.
“I knew I could have a good social life while still being able to work on becoming a better basketball player,” Winston said.
Of course, Lofton and Osunniyi most likely did some recruiting of their own that influenced Winston’s decision.
“Since I had played with (Lofton and Osunniyi), I knew I’d always have family here,” Winston said.
Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt has said that Winston will fit into the offense at the power forward position, sharing time with sophomore transfer Bobby Planutis.
“He’s an attacking type of forward,” Schmidt said of Winston. “He can shoot the ball, but he’s got better ball skills and more ‘junk in the trunk’.”
Winston said that he hopes to bring a little bit of everything to the floor for the Bonnies.
“I’m looking to bring a lot of intensity and energy,” he said. “I can grab rebounds and score inside and out.”
In the Bonnies’ exhibition vs. Alfred University last Wednesday, Winston logged nine rebounds and two points over 21 minutes.
It was his first taste of action in the Reilly Center, which he said he has been looking forward to playing in since his commitment.
“I’ll have a lot of eyes on me,” Winston said. “I’ve just gotta put on.”