Last December, FGCU landed one of their biggest transfers ever, both literally and metaphorically. At 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds, Antravious Simmons is built like a brick house. Although he won't be able to play until the start of the second semester due to NCAA transfer rules, Simmons will provide a huge boost for the Eagles come Atlantic Sun play.
Simmons is a textbook, post move big man, and will provide some much needed stability in the front court when he's eligible to see action. Although he's not as flashy as forwards Demtris Morant and Marc-Eddy Norelia, he will be a consistent force in the paint who also has the ability to drop the hammer down on the defense.
"My strength to my game is back to the basket. I'm a banger, you know? I like to get to my jump hooks," he said.
Formerly a big man at VCU, he was on their roster for eight games last season before making the decision to transfer. Because of that, he had to sit out at FGCU all of the second half of last season, and will have to sit out until the second semester of this season.
"Sitting out is tough. You learn a lot sitting out, seeing everything that's going on, but sitting out is tough," he said. "You want to be out on the court playing."
Hailing from Miami, FL, he was a consensus three-star center out of South Miami High School, where he averaged 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game as a senior. After receiving scholarships from Miami, South Carolina, Memphis, Kansas State, and VCU, Simmons decided join the Rams who were then coached by Shaka Smart. He utilized a redshirt his freshman year, and then decided to transfer after seeing limited minutes in only three games during the first half of his redshirt freshman campaign.
"I contacted my high school coach, and he made some calls around, and he was able to get a connection here at FGCU," Simmons said. "He asked me if I would be good to come here, and I told him 'yeah I'd be happy to come here.'"
Another factor that influenced Simmons to make the move to FGCU was the presence of former AAU teammate Zach Johnson on the Eagles roster. Johnson, a redshirt freshman point guard, played on Team Breakdown with Simmons when they were both in high school at the same time. Similarly, Johnson also sat out last season, and he and Simmons have been able to push through the tough experience together.
"Me and Zach talk about this like everyday. It's all a learning experience. Like I said, sitting out is not fun, and I knew it wasn't good for him to sit out either," Simmons said.
However, the tough experience that they both had to endure has provided fuel for both of them to come out and perform this year. Seeing the game from a different view can be a valuable experience, and Simmons plans to use the knowledge he learned from watching his teammates to help him gel with them once he's on the court.
Another driving force behind Simmons' positivity through his experience has been the coaching staff. Coach Joe Dooley makes sure that he instills his confidence in every player, and that's been no different with the way he's handled Simmons.
"He told me I'm going to get the ball, and everybody wants to hear that. He's shown he's a man of his word," Simmons said.
While there is still two months until he can play, Simmons will surely have plenty of opportunities to get the ball once his time comes. And once it does, the Atlantic Sun will have to watch out, because the big man is coming right for the basket.