Anthony Winchester will have more reason to watch Western Kentucky basketball this year, just in a different context than he’s used to.

One of the Hilltoppers’ top shooters in history is on staff at Southern Miss as an assistant with first-year coach Jay Ladner. Winchester’s official title is video coordinator, where he’ll lead scouting efforts of Golden Eagles’ opponents.

That now includes WKU.

“It’s good to be back in Conference USA to have that rival with WKU,” Winchester told the Daily News in a phone interview. “Looking forward to following that this year. The expectations are there. I’ll be cheering for them and always do.”

Winchester will get to wear red this weekend when he’s inducted into WKU’s Athletics Hall of Fame. The former men’s basketball standout will join Megan Argabright Soverns (volleyball), John Bushong (football) and Jackie Cooper (tennis) as the Class of 2019 inductees honored during the W-Club Homecoming Brunch at 10 a.m. Saturday morning on the floor of E.A. Diddle Arena.

That’s the very spot Winchester set a number of high marks as a lethal 3-point shooter for the Hilltoppers between 2003-06.

“A lot of good came from my playing days at Western,” Winchester said. “Everything that I’ve gotten in my career came from Western. Even if you look at my coaching career now, a lot of that has to do with my time at Western Kentucky.”

Winchester will return to campus for the first time in probably six years while pursuing assistant coaching jobs. A back injury slowed his professional playing career in Spain and Puerto Rico before he decided to officially hang it up and go for a coaching career.

He had two different stints in the LEB Gold Division in Spain and averaged double figure scoring. From 2008-10 – which was in between his playing time in Spain while recovering from injury – Winchester returned to WKU as video coordinator for Ken McDonald’s staff.

Since he started pursuing coaching, Winchester has worked at Austin Peay, Loyola Marymount and was one of the first assistants hired to Ladner’s staff at Southern Miss.

“I try to be hands-on as much as I can,” Winchester said. “Coach is showing a lot of trust in myself and I’ve been working hard and think I’ve been doing a good job.”

The Indiana native was a Mr. Basketball Runner-Up in 2002 after finishing his career ranked 11th all time with 2,256 points in Indiana.

He put together an All-American season in 2005 at WKU and was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as a senior. Winchester was a two-time first-team All-SBC selection and ranks ninth on WKU’s career scoring list with 1,732 points (14.1 ppg).

He shot 47 percent from the floor and 41 percent from 3-point range. His 247 career 3-pointers are second only to TJ Price (286). At the time, he set school records for 3-pointers in a game (eight, tied) and career (247), plus career (81.03 percent) and single season (87.8 percent) free throw accuracy.

Winchester’s shooting is a significant part of WKU’s boasted streak of games with a 3-pointer made, which exceeds 1,000 games now.

The NCAA has extended the 3-point line to FIBA regulated distance of 22-feet, 1.75-inches, back from the previous 20-feet, nine-inch mark.

Winchester said that change won’t make a big difference to shooters, especially if practice lines in the summer were already set at that distance.

“As a shooter, I was never concerned with that line, honestly,” Winchester said. “If you’re in the gym and putting the work in, a couple of inches isn’t going to affect anything. Once you get to the NBA line, that’s where you see the separation of shooters.”

This weekend will start a series of potential frequent encounters with WKU basketball. Southern Miss is scheduled to visit Diddle Arena on Feb. 8.

“It honestly hasn’t hit me,” Winchester said on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Everybody keeps telling me how big a deal it is. When (Paul Just) told me I was kind of shocked. Probably once I get back and I’m around again and see what the honor means … the Hall of Fame for anything is a lot. I’m excited.”{&end}

– Follow WKU athletics beat writer Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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