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Posted On: 12/7/18 9:07 AM
Today marks the day where every school in the Baltimore area will play their first official game. In regards to the MIAA and BCL, the schedule began three weeks ago, giving us time to get an early feel for those teams. Gilman has played a tough schedule against teams such as Georgetown Prep, West Nottingham Academy and Mt. St. Joseph. They stand with a 1-3 overall record. Despite the slow start, there have been plenty of positives, including the production they’ve received from freshman guard Christian Winborne.
Winborne played for Team Thrill’s 15U squad, which was regarded as a top team in the country, so playing against high-level competition isn’t shocking for him. Still, the varsity level for any freshman is an adjustment and Winborne is starting to realize that.
“It’s been a great experience for me so far,” Winborne said as he reflected on his practices leading up to the regular season. “I’ve really had a chance to grow and learn a lot about what it takes to play at this level. It turns out varsity is a lot more physical and faster than what middle school was.”
Like the majority of freshmen, Winborne is skinny and still growing into his body, but the 6-foot-1 guard has the skill level to hold his own. Fortunately for him, he has a senior leader on the team in Jalen Rucker to help him make the transition. The Army commit has been critical to Winborne’s time with Gilman thus far.
“Jalen has been like a big brother to me,” Winborne continued, “guiding me around the school, helping me with plays, he’s just been there for me and I’m really thankful for everything he has done.”
Gilman has a balance of youth and experience throughout their roster. The younger players certainly outweigh the seniors, which always makes for growing pains, but Winborne has shown glimpses of becoming a player that people talk about for the next three years in this area.
While Winborne can make an impact on the offensive end, he’s still a work in progress defensively. Not because he is slow laterally or simply a bad defender, but there’s the game within the game that he is becoming cognizant of.
“I have to learn how to play defense,” Winborne told Prep Hoops following their win against St. Paul’s. “I had four fouls tonight, so I have to do a better job of feeling out how the ref is calling the game and make adjustments.”
It’s still very early on in the season, but based off what I’ve been told from the coaching staff, Winborne has been an absolute pleasure both on and off the floor. He’s playing his role at the moment by coming off the bench looking to be a spark. It’s still a feeling out process, but Winborne trusts the process and isn’t rushing results.
“Coach Bartz tells me I’m going to be a big part of this team,” Winborne said. “I feel like I can bring a little bit of everything to the table whether it’s scoring, rebounding or playing defense. I’m just trying to do whatever is asked of me to help the team.”
My evaluation of Winborne:
Winborne is a combo guard that can score in bunches when he needs to. I’ve seen him play more as an off-guard that attacks well from the wing off the catch. He shot it well from three in AAU, but is still adjusting to the speed of defenders and close-outs at the varsity level. He runs the floor well with or without the ball and makes good decision in transition. Winborne has an effective pull-up on the break from 10-12 feet where he stops on a dime instead of putting himself in a position to get an offensive foul. He’s a good defender and moves well laterally.
Improvements that can be made is simply putting on more weight, which should come as he ages. At his size, he’ll be a point guard prospect at the collegiate level, but this season Rucker will handle the ball, so he’ll be featured more as a two-guard. Getting his handles tighter and seeing how he facilitates an offense is something I’ll be tracking as we look forward to the next couple of years for Winborne.