The 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior was playing well at his new school, Peabody High (La.), but he hadn't ever played AAU ball and Peabody hadn't been on the national map despite plenty of in-state success.
It didn't take long for Simmons to make an impact at the Academy National Invitational.
His relentless defensive style and versatility made him an impact favorite in Houston.
Simmons and his Peabody teammates will take to the floor tonight in state semifinals against Kentucky-bound big man Perry Stevenson and Northside High.
``It's going to be a good game," Simmons said. "A tough test for us."
Northside is 35-4 despite struggling in Houston and Simmons is averaging 18.2 points and plenty of steals per game.
``I've been playing a lot better since the tournament in Houston," Simmons said. "I'm focusing on defense and trying to stop the other team's best player every game."
Simmons won't play AAU ball again this spring and summer, instead electing to work on his game and also playing a couple of smaller tournaments with his high school. However, his play warrants an invite to one of the shoe camps.
``I just want to get better," he said. "I don't think I'm where I need to be."
Simmons is right. There's still plenty of room for improvement – with the consistency on his perimeter shot and his ballhandling skills. But that's the scary part.
``I don't have a leader out of the two," Simmons said. "I'm just happy to be in this position. I like it. It makes me want to get better."