University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino spent a lot of time this summer with his top targets in the Class of 2017, but the Hall of Fame coach also got a major jump start on the '18 class.
Pitino spent a lot of time with New Albany, Ind., wing Romeo Langford and two prospects from the state of Florida - Oldsmar Christian point guard Elijah Weaver and Orlando Edgewater shooting guard Anfernee Simons.
The 6-foot-3 Simons is ranked as the No. 45 prospect in the '18 class but his ranking is likely going to improve a lot after a banner summer with the Team Breakdown 16s, including a huge performance in week two at the Under Armour Finals.
"The competition was very good and I just had to adjust and find the way to play my game," said Simons, who played the first week at the Under Armour All-American camp. "The college coaches tell me they like the ways I can affect the game, shooting the ball, passing, using my scoring to my advantage and I just tried to keep doing that and showing what I can do."
Simons said he took note of the interest Pitino and his staff showed him and "really likes" the Cardinals' program. He took an unofficial visit to Louisville in late June and was "very impressed" with the campus.
"Coach (Pitino) said some good things to me, but he didn't sugar coat them," Simons said. "He told me like it was and he told me what I could do for them. They let their guards play and I like that.
"The guards always lead them in scoring at Louisville and I'm a scoring guard. So it's hard not to like that part."
Simons said Pitino was "a lot different" than he expected in person, noting he is intense with his players but is "really down-to-earth" and showed him a lot of attention during the visit and on the recruiting trail this summer.
And Pitino also showed Weaver a ton of interest. Simons and Weaver are AAU teammates and "very close" friends.
"We talk about it sometimes," Simons said of a package deal. "We have our own decisions to make, but I wouldn't mind it."
Simons said U of L and Florida have been showing him the most interest, while Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Central Florida, and Florida Gulf Coast are other schools he's been listing.
"It's picked up a lot since the spring," he said. "It's pretty overwhelming. But I do like it a lot."
Simons said earlier this month his plan was to remain in the '18 class and graduate from Edgewater and then attend a prep school for a season before going to college. Several schools are recruiting him for the '17 class and hoping he comes out after this next season.