It’s all about access.

That’s why the Winslow Invitational, powered by Highlands Sports Association, took place this weekend with a myriad of events including a symposium, camp and 3-on-3 basketball tournament that included three dozen youths. It also gave them the opportunity to meet and interact with a handful of former NBA-connected individuals including current Houston Rockets assistant and former player, John Lucas and former Houston Cougars basketball player Rickie Winslow – father of current NBA star Justise Winslow.

Lucas, who battled addiction as a younger man while coaching and playing and others, spoke to those in the audience about how to overcome the challenges that society can bring, especially with the added pressure of being a top athlete.

Winslow, who was a part of the legendary Phi Slama Jamma Cougar teams in the mid-80s and a local high school product out of Houston Yates High School, is the founder of the Rickie O’Neal Winslow Development of Youth (Rowdy) Foundation Inc.– started in 2013 – which aims to eradicate illiteracy and expand computer know-how and success among children and adults. They reach out to children, adolescents and adults through coordinated intervention programs that focus on education and enrichment.

“The motivation is to let kids know about this and just even reach one,” Winslow said. “It’s also about awareness, growth and fundamental skills of the game.

“The biggest challenge today is understanding the game. There are so many things getting in the way of that opportunity. Today, they have social media and you got a lot of AAU coaches in your ear preaching how good you are. It’s also important to make sure they are grateful to family.”

Winslow was a highly recruited prep player in his day, and he recognizes his time would have been much more difficult with those distractions.

“It would have been really hard because there is so much out there,” Winslow said. “Once you push send, you can’t bring it back. You got to be able to be to understand what you are putting out there and be accountable for it.

“I could take a lot of things because I knew who I was and I grew up around a lot of older people, listening to what different people had to say. My skin was really tough, but sometimes you got to take what people throw at you and life challenges as well.”

City of Baytown, District 3 councilman Charles Johnson helped get the event off the ground and was proud of what it offered.

“I wanted to organize this to give the children of Baytown access to the same individuals that players, coaches and children in Houston have access to,” Johnson said. “This is the first time we have had a panel of this sort and magnitude come and speak to the students of the Goose Creek school district.”

Last year, Baytown hosted an AAU basketball tournament that hosted 42 teams from across the country, according to Johnson. He added that some former NBA players were at the Toyota dealership in Baytown to be a part of a meet and greet event. 

Marcus Ebow, head coach of the Goose Creek Memorial boys basketball team said the event offered different types of angles to be spoken about when it comes to keeping one’s personal orders in check.

“To have those messages come from people who have excelled at the high school, collegiate and pro playing and coaching levels, only enhances those messages, Ebow said. “It was great for the community to have all these different speakers come from different parts of the basketball world,” Ebow said. “Just to have the kids come out and hear different, opinionated voices is not a bad thing.”

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