Salt Lake Community College coach Norm Parrish says that Sims is used to the attention he is receiving, since he's done nothing but get awards since arriving two years ago. "We went 27-6 [this year], and he just found out he got first team all-American today," said Parrish. "He was a second teamer last year as a freshman. He was player of the year in our league both years. This year he actually led the league in scoring, at about 19 a game, and in rebounding, at about 9 a game. We literally use him in everything. He'll shoot a couple of threes in a game. We'll post him up. He'll beat you off the dribble." And the competition Sims is doing it against is not the easiest in the country, by any means. "Our league is called Region 18 of the Scenic West, and it's one of the best in the country. Southern Idaho actually took first in our league this year," said Parrish. Cat fans who have followed recruiting this year will be familiar with Southern Idaho, as a former Kentucky target played there. Mohamed Kone committed to Baylor last week. Sims had some battles against Kone this season. "Rekalin is the type of kid," continued Parrish, "that is a tough matchup for Kone, who's 6'11". And Rekalin is just really clever. So he had some very good games against Southern Idaho."
Curiously, I asked Coach Parrish how similar his offense and defense were to what Tubby Smith runs at Kentucky, somewhat angling toward how smooth a transition Sims could make, if he decided to come to Kentucky. Parrish said, "It's funny. We run kind of the same secondary break. I call it the Kansas break, but I think Dean Smith may have started it." Parrish also noted substitution patterns as an area where SLCC and UK are similar. "When Kentucky played Utah [in this year's NCAA tournament], they made a big deal out here in the news about how Kentucky had nine guys that averaged over eleven minutes a game. We actually had ten guys that averaged over ten minutes a game. So Rekalin has obviously played quite a few minutes for us, but he's used to playing six, seven minutes, then coming out for a quick blow, then getting back in." Sounds like a Tubby Smith kind of guy.
What does Rekalin lack? Parrish stressed time in the weight room as a big key for Sims. "Once he really gets in the weight room, he's got a good frame. He was in summer school here last year, so he probably didn't hit the weights as hard as he should have. He's very long. He's not overly athletic, but not a bad athlete." Could Rekalin play in the SEC right out of the gate? Parrish thinks so. "Skillwise," said the head coach, "Rekalin can play anywhere. He has a great feel for the game. For him to really contribute in the manner he's capable of, he's going to have to get stronger, and he's going to have to put on some weight. If he does that, the sky's really the limit."
So how did a guy like Sims, who hails from De La Salle High School in California, and now playing in Utah, get hooked up with the likes of the Kentucky Wildcats? Scott Rigot, the Kentucky assistant coach, strikes again, according to Parrish. "I know Scott. When he was at Alabama-Birmingham, he tried to get one of my kids. Ironically, the kid he was recruiting ended up going to Hawaii. Then Scott ended up going to Hawaii and coaching him there. So that's where I first met Scott. Then we've kind of just touched base each year. I know he knew some people in Hawaii that knew Rekalin's grandma also. Scott asked me about him pretty early in the year."
A replacement for Chuck Hayes…sounds simple, doesn't it? Not to Coach Parrish. "When they first called me, Scott was saying we need to replace Chuck Hayes. And I'm like, Chuck Hayes is the man. Rekalin does not play the same way Chuck Hayes does. But if Rekalin put on ten pounds, and you gave them similar minutes, I think their numbers could be the same."