FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s basketball team added another high-level transfer signee today with Alyza Winston (Muskegon, Mich./Muskegon HS/Michigan State/Mississippi State) The Eagles as announced by head joining coach Karl Smesko today. Winston transferred to Mississippi State this past January, but was only eligible to practice after playing just over two seasons, including as a starter in 2020-21 and to begin 2021-22, at Michigan State.
“Alyza is a skilled and talented player. She is a very good shooter, and she is a proven scorer against high-level competition,” said Smesko. “She should really excel in our style of play. Alyza is fast, and she loves playing in transition.”
With the Spartans, she started all 10 games played to begin this past season where she averaged 12.2 points and 3.0 assists before transferring. She logged just under 27 minutes while shooting .425 from the floor. Winston had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2019-20 becoming a full-time starter to average 11.1 points, 2.0 assists and 1.1 rebounds per contest. The 5-foot-7 guard scored in double figures 23 times in her career, while eclipsing the 15-point mark in 11 of those games. She is a career 44% shooter from the field and 73% from the charity stripe.
She posted a career-high 25 points as a sophomore against Iowa (12/12/20) going 9-of-17 from the floor which included six three pointers. She also scored 20 points at Minnesota (12/9/20), while later posting 23 points and a career-high seven rebounds against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament.
Before college, Winston played for Rodney Walker at Muskegon High School where she helped guide her team to the Class A State semifinals averaging 24.7 points, 3.3 steals, 3.2 assists as a senior. A four-star recruit and the No. 68 ranked player in the Class of 2019, Winston was named to the 2019 Detroit Free Press Dream Team that season as well.
As a junior, she led Muskegon to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. She averaged 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.1 steals during her junior campaign.
Overall for her high school career, she earned back-to-back All-State honors in 2018 and 2019 while also earning all-conference and all-district honors. Winston hero offers from Kentucky, Rutgers, West Virginia, Depaul and others coming out of high school.
Winston joins transfers Sha Carter from Walsh University and Uju Ezeudu of the University of Denver as the prior announced newcomers for the upcoming season. Carter was the all-time leading scorer and a three-time All-American at Walsh, while Ezeudu was a two-time All-Summit League selection and the fastest Pioneer to reach 1,000 career points (73 games).
FGCU, ranked No. 20 in the final WBCA poll of the season, finished 2021-22 with a 30-3 overall record after advancing to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. That marked the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Eagles over the past 11 years and fifth straight. The Green and Blue won its ninth ASUN Championship Title to earn the berth, while the 30 wins marked the fifth time in the past eight seasons to hit the milestone.
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FGCU head coach Karl Smesko maintains a record of 610-128 (.826) overall in his career, which is the third-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches behind only UConn’s Geno Auriemma and LSU’s Kim Mulkey. He has also led the Eagles to a 232-18 (.930) mark in ASUN regular season play and a 30-2 (.933) record in ASUN tournament play. Over the previous 10 seasons, he has guided FGCU to a 153-5 (.968) record in conference play with six undefeated seasons. The 12-time ASUN Coach of the Year has led the program to 12-straight 25-win seasons and 18-consecutive 20-win campaigns, including 30-plus wins in five of the last eight years. On top of all that, the Eagles are 549-101 (.845) all-time since Smesko started the program in the 2002-03 season, and the Green and Blue’s .845 all-time winning percentage is the best in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history.
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ Charities of Choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 92 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 10 plus seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 45 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. In 2022, the men’s golf team became the first program to earn at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as four of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 25 consecutive semesters. The past five semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021) each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.