Derek Winston will be the first person to tell you that he didn’t expect to end up playing basketball at Mid-America Christian University. After wrapping up an illustrious high school career in Ada, Okla., and beginning his collegiate career at Murray State, Winston received many offers from D-I schools across the country — but time and again, the offer always went to another player.
With the clock ticking, Winston signed with MACU in 2007, a move he could only remember as “unexpected.” “I was used to being in Oklahoma, born and raised in Ada,” Winston said, “but going to school at MACU wasn’t the turn I expected.” It was, however, the turn that God had in mind. “MACU taught me how to be a better man,” he said, recalling struggles common to all student-athletes that he faced in the classroom.
“A lot of people when they go to school, especially athletes, we struggle to focus and concentrate. I was able to get my education because of professors like Dr. Steve
Sloan and Dr. Marvin Middlebrooks.”
When he struggled in class, Winston said professors like Sloan and Middlebrooks were always eager to help him stay on track. The biggest hardship of all, he said, was coming to terms with his collegiate career not going the way he planned. “With basketball it was a struggle because I came in thinking that I wasn’t supposed to be at MACU – I was supposed to be at a bigger school. It was very difficult, but it also motivated me to push myself and be the best that I could be in whatever I wanted to do,” he said. “MACU gave me the opportunity to do that.”
Winston’s indomitable spirit has brought him overseas, where he’s played professional ball since 2009. In his twelve-year professional career, he’s played in Finland, Germany, Estonia and Switzerland, where he’s spent the last five years. Currently, he’s a point guard for the Morges-Saint-Prex Red Devils. Although his career has taken him far from home, Winston said he still keeps the lessons he learned at MACU close to his heart. He said while his professors helped him succeed academically and his coaches helped him improve as a basketball