Rising high school senior out of Richmond Heights, Ohio, Deja Winters will be taking her basketball talents to South Orange in 2016.
Winters, the reigning Northeast Lakes District Division III player of the year and a News-Herald first team All-Star, averaged 20 points per game last season. She also helped the Richmond Heights squad land its first ever district title.
She announced her commitment to Seton Hall on Monday.
“I felt that I would be comfortable at Seton Hall,” she told The Setonian on Tuesday. “I really like the coaching staff as well as the players. They have a really good program and I feel that we can win.”
Winters already fits the mold of the Seton Hall women’s basketball motto, “Why Not Seton Hall?”
“I’m looking forward to the experience and trying to get somewhere people don’t expect us to get to and win,” she said.
Her father, Demarris Winters, Richmond Heights’ coach as well as district coach of the year, was heavily involved with his daughter’s recruiting process.
“We’re ecstatic about it,” the coach said on her decision to play for Seton Hall. “It’s a great school academically and athletically. The coaches and players are great and even the students there are excellent.”
Seton Hall was one of only three schools Winters officially visited. The other two included Cincinnati and Indiana. Winters also received offers from more than 40 different schools and made unofficial visits to Toledo and Eastern Michigan.
Now that the recruiting process is over, Winters has time to focus on the end of her high school basketball career.
“It’s a big relief,” she said. “Now I can focus on my next goal, trying to get a ring here for my high school team and not have to deal with all the coaches calling and texting my phone, which kind of got overwhelming sometimes.”
The end of this long process is also a relief to her father and coach.
“We’ve worked so hard. She’s put so much work into being a great student-athlete even before she got to high school,” he said. “It’s like a new beginning for us. It feels very good to know that my daughter, who I love very much, is going to play [at the] Division I level for a school like Seton Hall.”
When picking the Hall, it helped that the team is coming off a monumental season that included the title of Big East regular season champions and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
“It showed that they can win,” Winters said. “I really wanted to be a part of the process and try to go even further.”
Olivia Mulvihill can be reached at Olivia.firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @OliviaMulvihill