NEW YORK --
How won't he go pro after just one year? I mean, have you seen him? Intimidating style of play, undeniably skilled, a mismatch every second he's on the floor and as valuable as any player Mike Krzyzewski has had in a few years.
Yeah, Justise Winslow is sick-nasty.
That likely No 1. 2015 draft pick -- Jahlil Okafor -- he's pretty special, too. But Winslow has been splendid. It's beyond the stats. Winslow is the only one on the team averaging more than 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, but overall he looks as must-watch as any player in the sport. And if you've paid attention, five games in and out, Winslow has been the best overall player for Krzyzewski's team so far. And he's certainly been the most wowing.
"To say what he does best? That's kind of hard. He does everything well," Okafor said.
How many other guys in college basketball are you seeing capable of this?
Just swatting shots (OK, after a foul from a teammate) and flying over guys' heads in the process. Stop it, Justise.
"He's been amazing," freshman point guard teammate Tyus Jones said. "He can score the ball in so many different ways. Physically gifted, so it's hard to match up with him. And out in transition, he's unstoppable. The thing is, he's been knocking down jump shots. When he's making those, that makes guys have to respect him, close out, and then that's when he gets to the cup. It rounds out his game and what he's improved on the most."
In a sport that continues to upgrade its physical specimens by the year, Winslow looks to be the latest offspring of freak.
Duke got some pushback, but not too much, in its 2-0 road trip to Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday. There was the 20-point win over Temple in the Coaches vs. Cancer semifinals (and allow me once more to plug my Coach K-Fran Dunphy Army piece here), then the 70-59 victory over a solid, maybe-second-best-in-the-Pac-12 Stanford team Saturday.
"I just try to stay aggressive. Tonight I took a couple of bad 3s," Winslow said. "I've got to do a better job with my shot selection, take shots I know I can make."
Through five games, the buzz around the 6-foot-6 Blue Devils wing is that he can clearly be a top-five pick. Not bad for a guy who, let's be honest, most weren't talking about or didn't know all that well just three weeks ago.
Winslow was absolutely seen as first-round material for the 2015 NBA Draft heading into the year, but his tools and immediate adaptation to the college game has impressed a lot of general managers and scouts, making next year's lottery already more intriguing.
Let's go to Exhibit B. Did you catch this ridiculous end-to-end move in traffic against Michigan State earlier in the week?
"Emotionally I might've been too up for that game, but I'm starting to figure it out, how to get up for each game, which is a little bit different," Winslow said Saturday night of the win over MSU. "I didn't envision how close we'd be so fast. Off the court we have a great team, and the chemistry is building."
The carved freshman has been helped big-time because he spent plenty of time playing point guard during high school and AAU ball on the way up. Not exclusively, but enough to lend him a skillset that's about as varied as any freshman in the country, including Okafor.
With Stanford throwing the sink at Okafor defensively Saturday night, it allowed Quinn Cook (team-high 18 points) and Winslow to experiment and thrive. It wasn't perfect, but it was Duke's fifth game in eight days. All things considered, the Blue Devils look not only really good, but a step up from last season.
Winslow said he'd rate the team at a B-plus through the first five games.
"I don't know what y'all are seeing out there," Winslow said.
Scouts would say they're seeing a player who has the ability to defend almost every position, anywhere on the floor, to move in transition well with or without the ball, to not be afraid of making the needed pass, to prove he can step out and sink a 22-footer.
"He found the gaps in our defense and exploited them," Stanford guard Chasson Randle said.
The best part for Duke right now: Cook, who won the Coaches vs. Cancer MVP award, is banging shots and playing with confidence. And Rasheed Sulaimon is suddenly one of the best glue guys in the country. He's a player who -- so far -- is showing a lot of positivity in his role. This is unquestionably a team with more gumption compared to last season's group.
"I think it's going to be very hard for us to lose. It's such a talented team, I feel everyone should get some of the love," Okafor said.
Winslow, Okafor and Jones have brought an element to this team that is blending very well with Amile Jefferson, Sulaimon and Cook.
Krzyzewski has had his share of lottery picks. And he's assented to the one-and-done philosophy. So this looks to be the trinity of newbies that can bring Duke to a level it will consistently have to play at to remain on a stratum with Kentucky, Arizona and Wisconsin, the elite four teams. (And if you want to include Gonzaga in that, I think it qualifies.)
Winslow could wind up being the key, though. Okafor is the centerpiece, Jones is the true point guard (which is a dying position in college hoops) and Winslow is the multipurpose machete.
"I'm really proud of how ahead of the curve our guys, especially our young guys are," Jefferson said.
I'm not sure Krzyzewski has ever had a weapon like Winslow. Krzyzewski said Winslow's skills most resembled Tommy Amaker and Grant Hill, but Winslow is so much stronger than both of those Duke legends were, and certainly a better defensive player -- or at least has the potential to be. Obviously he has a long way to go on offense to be in the class of Amaker and Hill.
"There's a lot of things we can do to get better," Winslow said. "Being in the huddle and out there on the court, we've got a high ceiling on the team and a lot of way to go before we get there. It's been a lot of fun, but it's been a business trip."
In that regard, no doubt. Winslow upped his monetary value, and Duke didn't slow anyone from thinking it's setting up to be one of those classic K teams without glaring weak spots.