Winters, a combo guard who helped take the Eagles into the state playoffs, will play for the two-year college starting in the fall.
If the star basketball player develops his talent with the Highlanders as he hopes, he will then go on to play for a major college as well as obtain a degree.
Winters said he has a lot of faith in his basketball talent and wants to see how far it will take him.
“I believe as hard as I work and play at basketball, I will be able to play at that level,” he said. “I believe that’s where my talent belongs.”
However, he said, if those dreams don’t materialize, he will accept whatever happens.
“Whatever comes my way I’ll be happy with,” he said.
Jon-Michael Nickerson, his coach at Excel, said Winters is going to a good situation that one day could help him realize his goals.
“I’m good friends with his coach [Izzy Ingle],” Nickerson said. “He helped me at Kennesaw [State], where his dad was head coach. Rudy wants to go to a bigger school than he was getting interest from and believes he needs to develop his game and get more time in the weight room and become more explosive on the court. Rudy feels they can help him there.”
Nickerson said he believes Winters is one of those rare kids who understands how much commitment it takes to become an elite player.
“In Rudy they’re getting a kid who loves to be in the gym. I don’t think most kids really realize what it takes to make it to that elite level, but Rudy does. He wants to learn, he wants to play, he wants you to drill him. They are getting a gym rat. That’s what they’re getting.
“Rudy also is getting another young coach to work with who’ll be able to sense his passion and energy. Ingle has coached an All-American player. The school has back-to-back 20-win seasons and I believe it’s one of the top two or three JUCO programs in the state.”
Winters won’t be placing all his eggs in one basket, however.
At Gordon College he plans to pursue a degree that will allow him to work in physical therapy.
He said he became interested in that as a career when he was undergoing treatment and therapy for a sports injury.
“If that doesn't work out, I hope to go overseas and play basketball,” he added. “When you do that, you get to do a lot of traveling and you get paid for doing what you love the most — playing basketball.”
Winters said he has loved basketball since he was about 8 years old.
“When I was younger, I started out playing baseball and was really good at it,” he said. “I just thought about it one day and talked to my dad, Wayne, who had kind of pushed me toward baseball, which he played.
“I said I wanted to try something different and he was fine with that.”
Winters said he watched kids in the neighborhood and practiced what he saw.
“I just fell in love with basketball and started studying and watching,” he said. “There's so much that goes into it, and that’s what kept me interested.”