Michigan added crucial depth and experience to its point guard ranks when it announced the addition of graduate transfer Jaaron Simmons to the program this week.
With the departure of Derrick Walton Jr., the Wolverines were lacking an experienced point man with sophomore Xavier Simpson returning with minimal in-game experience. The addition of Simmons adds a senior leader that could slot into a starting role the first day he steps foot on campus.
Meeting with the media on Friday, U-M head coach John Beilein could not contain his excitement about the addition of Simmons, raving about what he could bring to the team. He even went as far to say the program received a special addition.
"We're excited about that," Beilein said. "I am very excited about his personality and his ability to lead. It was very hard for him to leave Ohio University, he has very good coaches down there. A lot of the mid-majors, and I don't like this at all, but if Jaaron doesn't come here he ends up somewhere else in the Big Ten. He's just fundamentally so sound and he will be here this summer. Just as a person, I wanted to coach the kid after spending an hour with him. The leadership and the desire to win, I can't tell you who he reminds me of. I have a sense I have a really special addition to this team. Not just because of talent level, because of his desire [to win.] He hasn't played in the NCAA Tournament, he would love to be an NBA player and he sees that there is a plan for him to do both. He's excited and we're excited."
Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed as Beilein specifically said that Simmons is not guaranteed a starting position. However, he views the veteran as a mentor-type to help Simpson and incoming true freshman Eli Brooks to develop throughout the year. Despite him being one of a small number of players with vast experience on the team, Beilein will not rely on Simmons to carry the team.
He hopes that Simpson and Brooks make strides.
"It's not just hinged on him, we have Xavier [Simpson] who improved a lot this year and we're extremely high on Eli Brooks," Beilein said. "Jaaron has four years of experience between Houston and Ohio and he's been well-coached at both spots. Obviously getting used to his new teammates and a new system. I know one thing, he's extraordinary with the ball screen and we like to do it, too. He wants to win, we like guys who prioritize winning over their own stats."