SoCal Swing: Breaking down Justin Simon

MURRIETA, Calif. -- After spending the first two days of my California road trip just outside of Los Angeles, colleague Josh Gershon and myself hopped in the car and made the drive to Murrieta (Calif.) for Temecula Valley's showdown against rival Vista Murrieta.

The purpose of this two hour drive was to evaluate 6-foot-5 guard Justin Simon, who we are debating on making a big move with in our next 2015 rankings.

After a strong summer on the circuit with Gamepoint, Simon moved up his way up to No. 55 nationally and No. 10 at the point guard position. Early returns this season indicate that, that ranking is too low.

Simon's performance on Thursday, confirmed those sentiments.

Simon led his team to a double-digit victory and filled the box score, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five steals, three blocks and just two turnovers.

Initially what sticks out about Simon is his terrific frame. Simon stands 6-foot-5, has a wide set of shoulders and arms that stretch nearly to his knees. He's been measured with a 6-foot-11 wingspan.

Once you get past his physical features, it's easy to see Simon's versatility. He impacts the game in a variety of ways and on both ends of the floor.

Offensively he plays with the ball in his hands for Temecula Valley. For a guy his size, he handles the ball well, has an impressive basketball IQ and sees the floor quite well. Throughout the contest on Thursday, Simon made good decision and looked to get his teammates involved.

Simon goes for 20 points
Perhaps the biggest critique of Simon's game has centered on his shooting ability. But Simon opened up the game with a pair of mid-range jumpers, one from 10-feet and then another from the elbow about 15-feet from the rim.

Shortly after hitting a pair of jumpers, Simon began to attack the rim and make plays in transition. He caught a lob from a teammate, showing off his tremendous athleticism, and began to make his way to the free throw line.

Simon appears to be at his best when he's in attack mode. He's good at creating shot opportunities for his teams, but because of his physical tools, he's a strong finisher in the lane and is able to slice his way to the rim.

Simon did miss both of his three-point attempts and his long-range shot is an area of his game that he'll need to spruce up, but his form is fine and he finishing with a high release.

In all Simon, scored off three mid-range pull-ups, two floaters in traffic and three finishes at the rim. He also made his way to the free throw line nine times. He finished 8-for-14 from the field and 5-for-9 from the free throw line.

Defensively, is an area that Simon excels. Simon has a terrific combination of his size, length, athleticism, lateral quickness and strength. All of those attributes combined make him a terrific defender.

Simon is capable of defending multiple positions and on Thursday he guarded every position on the floor. At the next level, Simon will be capable of defending the one, two or three and likely at a high level.

One question surrounding Simon will be what position to project him at. Personally I like him on the ball because of his skill, passing, IQ and ability to attack off the bounce. With that said, I could see why some would prefer him off of it and in reality, if we had the combo guard classification at, that's what we would go with.

"Really I'm just a guard that can come in and guard the one, two or three," he told me after the game. "I'd really like to develop myself as a point guard at whichever University I attend. I don't mind playing guard or either position. I just want to be on the floor. That's what it comes down to. If you can defend you can stay on the floor."

Regardless of position, Simon has a lot of value and the attention he's beginning to get on the recruiting trail is warranted. This time last year, Simon's only scholarship offer was from UC Irvine, now he's a surefire high major prospect and capable of playing for any school in the country.

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