The Arizona Wildcats got good news on Saturday evening when five-star combo guard Kobi Simmons picked the program. Simmons, who is one of the most naturally gifted players in the class, committed to Arizona in a wild recruitment, but he brings a lot to the court if Sean Miller can find a way to get the most out of him.
When it comes to Simmons there is no questioning the physical traits he possesses. He is a good to very good athlete, he has great size for the position, when motivated he is a gifted passer with good floor vision, and he also has the ability to light up the scoreboard.
However when discussing Simmons no one has ever had a problem with what he is capable of doing on the court, the issues have always centered around what he is motivated to do. At times during the summer Simmons appeared selfish and to mentally not be engaged. That caused some to question his status as an elite prospect and even to have schools drop out of his recruiting race.
Now it is up to Miller and his coaching staff to get the most out of Simmons. One that has to be considered is that Miller has done an excellent job with “personalities” at the point guard position in the past.
Talented but enigmatic at Oklahoma, Miller got the best out of Drew Lavender while at Xavier, and helped lead the Musketeers to the Elite 8. While he was an assistant at Xavier, he was able to get through to Lionel Chalmers and turned the Musketeers season around helping them make the school’s first elite 8 run.
Then at Arizona Miller took Mark Lyons as a senior graduate transfer. Lyons, who is not easy to coach, averaged nearly 16 points and 3 assists per game while leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament.
So clearly there is a history of Miller taking talented players with complex personalities, and making them into excellent point guards.
Now with Simmons, if Miller can get the most out of him, Arizona has a potential superstar. At 6-foot-5 he has the ability to play on or off the ball, and can guard virtually any position in the backcourt. He has quick feet, long arms, and the requisite athleticism to guard point guards as well as wings.
On offense Simmons is gifted. While mid-range jumpers aren’t great shots from an analytical perspective most of the time, Simmons makes them at such a high clip that they become a good shot for him. Also he gets into the lane at will with a good first step excellent quickness. When in the lane he can score it or find open teammates to set them up for buckets.
If there is one bit of offensive kryptonite for Simmons it is that he isn’t a great outside shooter. He needs reps and to work on that, but the stroke is fine and the jumper isn’t completely broken, so in that regard in time he projects to be a fine shooter from deep.
Overall there is a ton to like with Simmons. Guys at 6-foot-5 with very good athleticism and point guard skill don’t grow on trees, and Simmons is just that. Assuming Sean Miller can work his magic and build a good trust with Simmons to play the way he wants, Simmons is the type of kid who can help Arizona go deep into March Madness.