Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 3:57 p.m.
Winston Shepard is leaving Missouri City (Texas) Hightower High to play his next three seasons of basketball at Findlay College Prep.
A 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward, he was considered among the top first-year players in the Houston area last season. At a camp filled with national prospects last month in Long Beach, Calif., Shepard was considered the player with the most upside, according to one recruiting guru.
“We are very excited and fortunate to get a player of Winston’s caliber and age into our program,” said Pilots coach Mike Peck. “We look forward to three years of working with him.”
Shepard’s long list of college possibilities includes UNLV, UCLA, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wake Forest and Indiana.
“ 'Winn’s’ excitement, passion and love for this game, combined with the Findlay program is a blessing made in heaven,” said Shepard’s mother, Eurica Johnson. “Findlay is a proven top-notch program, from academics to basketball.”
Findlay, which is affiliated with the prestigious Henderson International School, finished its third season in April by winning the first ESPN National High School Invitational in Maryland.
It capped a 33-0 campaign by beating Oak Hill Academy in the championship game.
Peck is 65-1 as the Pilots’ coach, and Shepard is the latest elite prospect to join Findlay.
Marko Petrovic, a 6-4 guard from Croatia who is the nephew of the late European star Drazen Petrovic, and Aussie forward Dekeeba Battee-aston have also joined the Findlay squad.
Nigel Williams-Goss, an outstanding point guard from Oregon who will play all four prep seasons at Findlay, and Jabari Brown, a forward from Oakland, also will be new Pilots this fall.
The leaders of the team will be seniors Cory Joseph, a guard who is among the top dozen national figures in his class, Tristan Thompson and Godwin Okonji.