Back in the winter of 2003, GoBlueWolverine was down in Detroit covering a holiday tournament when a tall youngster walked up out of the crowd to talk a little basketball. It soon became apparent during the course of conversation that the young man loved Michigan. The Wolverines had only sent him a questionnaire at that point, (the only form of direct contact they could make), which caused him to think they weren't interested. Despite constant reassurances to the contrary by his coach, the young man was hurt. At that point he vowed to make Michigan notice him. That player was none other than Deshawn Sims. Fast forward two years later to the morning of November 9th, 2005, and there in the media center at Detroit Pershing High School stood a young man that had achieved his goal.
"I feel like I earned this scholarship," Sims said. "I don't feel like it was given to me. I worked so hard for this day. I was just at home thinking earlier…'man…I'm going to get a full scholarship.' Nobody in my family ever had any kind of scholarship…for anything. I just feel great because this is a big accomplishment for my family. I'm looking at it like I've finished one step, and now I have to move to the next one. This was my dream."
With his family by his side, Deshawn Sims signs on the dotted line
Sims' feelings for the Maize and Blue were so strong that his matriculation to Ann Arbor always seemed like a mere formality. For a time, though, there was a little uncertainty. Questions about Michigan's program (some legitimate and some not) by those interested in seeing him go elsewhere planted seeds of doubt in his mind. In the end, though, his love for Michigan just couldn't be overcome.
"Michigan never left my heart," he said. "The theme song is not something that makes you pick a school, but if you've loved a school since you were younger, you start to FEEL that song. That theme song beats to the tune of my heart. I've always loved Michigan, but sometimes I took situations and listened to different people, and I would think twice about what I wanted to do. They would say, ' nah, that's not the situation for you,' or 'I don't think you will fit there,' or 'the coach might leave,' or 'they haven't won in a lot of years,' or 'it's too close to home…you'll be home every weekend.' Those were the things that made me hesitate a little. I heard a lot of that, and it confused me. But [that feeling for Michigan] never left my heart. It never left. It was like I stored it. But when I came back to my senses…I just thought one day…I'm going to commit to the University of Michigan. Since then there has been no stress"
Part of what made Sims come to the realization that his doubts were misplaced was the genuine interest in his well-being that was apparent when he visited Ann Arbor. The relationships he forged with the players and coaches at Michigan played a huge role in cementing his choice. "Even when I was considering other schools, [the Michigan players] would say whatever I decided, we'd still be cool. They'd say, 'you'll still be [my boy].' Whenever I went up there they showed me a good time. I just feel comfortable around them. I fit in. They welcomed me in and made me feel comfortable. Plus Coach Amaker is cool. He was for ME! He didn't rush me. He didn't pressure me. I was like, 'if this is a guy that's not going to pressure me…that made me feel comfortable throughout the whole recruiting situation, then I want to be around him. I want him to coach me.' "
Shortly after signing his letter Sims began to envision his future as a Wolverine, and his excitement was palpable. The 6-7.5, 235-pounder feels like he's ready to go in and make his presence felt right away. "I just can't wait," he exclaimed! "I think I'm going to determine what position I play when I get there. As long as I prove to him that I can do anything on the floor, I'll determine that. He might have to say, 'Deshawn, what do you want to play' because I'm going to show him that I can do everything. My mentality is to go in and push everybody else…whether it is a senior or freshman. I'm trying to build all of the guys up and show them that even though I'm a freshman, I'm still there for them. I'm going to try to be a leader from the time I walk into the gym."
Deshawn Sims & Women's bball signee Sireece Bass
As one of the top players in the country, it should be a forgone conclusion that Pershing's offense run through Sims. That, however, wasn't always the case last year. According to Henry, history won't repeat itself. "It's funny because last year we wanted everything to run through that guy," Henry said laughing. "Last year he was the most important guy out there, it just that sometimes we (i.e. the kids on the floor) got away from that…and that hurt us down the stretch. This year we are hoping we can run everything through him. He definitely is the most important guy on the floor at all times. That's not even a question."
For Sims, the lack of reluctance to give him the ball will be a welcomed change this season. He expects to set the tone for his team on a nightly basis. "You're going to see an animal this year," Sims said regarding what should be expected of him. "I'm going to change my finesse game just to show how bad I really want it. You're going to see tenaciousness. I think I have all of the tools, but I still work hard on every one. I know I need to work on my decision making. Your mind controls everything you do physically, so I'm really concentrating on that."
There clearly is a buzz about what Sims might do on the court this year, and many at Pershing are expecting him to carry the Doughboys a long way. As exciting as that is, though, they think he could be even better in college. "Deshawn has a tremendous wing game that he hasn't been able to show here because he plays the post," Henry said. "He has a tremendous outside game. I think he is going to be a great college player! He's going to work hard and he wants to make it. I think the sky is the limit for Deshawn."
Be sure to look out for MUCH MUCH more on Deshawn Sims in an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the Magazine. And stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine.com for an inspiring story on Sims' Pershing classmate and Michigan Women's Basketball signee, Sireece Bass.