**Miss this morning's Detroit News article on Dion Sims? Click here.
Sam Webb: He was very clear though in talking about how right now his heart is with basketball. When you evaluate where things are at this point, what are college coaches saying about his prospects on the basketball floor?
Don Sims: “College coaches are looking at him on the AAU circuit, but they’re not really seeing his full potential right now because a lot of time he is playing the bigger guys, playing against the centers. Occasionally he can show what he would do at the two or the one, which is where he will play in college, but a lot of times they are not seeing him in those positions. They are saying that he has got an upside, he has potential, he can be good… he can even be special, but he has got work to do and he knows that. He is not a kid that is coming out right now, but they are looking at, saying, ‘okay this is one year and then the NBA.’ They are saying there is still work that has got to be done and they want to continue to evaluate him. I don’t know if I can mention school names but there are particular coaches that are saying, ‘well hey, we need to see a little more film’ or ‘hey, we want to see him in a couple more high profile AAU tournaments so we can really assess where his game is.’ They love his body. They say that he has got a body of a college player right now, but he has got to work on his footwork. His first step is slow and is not where it should be yet at the college level, but that can be obtained with some individual agility drills, jump rope and things like that. They are making reference to the fact that he is a special player, a special kid. He has got the body. He has got the passion. They see that, but 6’5”, 6’6” players in the college ranks are a dime a dozen, but they see his talent. They see his jump shot. They do feel he needs to work on that, because right now he is shooting over smaller guards, usually playing him at the top of the key. He has got to work on getting that shot off when someone his size or bigger is on him… or dribble drive and step out around the perimeter and get a jump shot and not a set shot.”
Sam Webb: When I spoke with Dion he must have rattled off 10-12 scholarship offers in football but in basketball he talked about Kent State. When you guys talk, what factors in? Do you factor in which sport he might have the greatest upside in or is it about which sport he loves the most?
Don Sims: “Both. Initially the discussion was about which sport he had the most passion for and that has always been basketball since he was a young man. He worked at that game… his dribbling, his shooting… he worked at it a lot as a young man. Then with football, he was gifted. When he first started playing for PAL (Police Athletic League) for the Westside Cubs, in his first game, he scored like a touchdown with no time left on the clock. He was playing quarterback, ran like 70 yards, and scored the touchdown. The crowd was going crazy, but they said that he stepped out of bounds at the one yard line, so they didn’t end up winning the game. But right then and there, we thought, ‘wow this kid is special.’ He was big though. He was bigger than a lot of those kids on the football field, but we saw that he had a talent and a special ability to play that game. Still his work ethic went more into basketball and that is where we saw his passion. Going back to what we were talking about colleges, looking at the schools that are in the news, the schools that are in the NCAA tournament… we have talked about him wanting to play in the NCAA tournament. Football has kind of evolved because he started getting a lot of notoriety at the high school level and I don’t even think people have really seen his full potential on the football field. I think they are looking at him as a project that can be very great if he gets the right honing in techniques and skills going. He likes schools that have both good basketball and football programs and will provide exposure for him in either sport.”
Sam Webb: As his dad, are you telling him that this is a decision that he needs to make right now, are you telling him to wait and weigh his options a little more?
Don Sims: “I'm telling him to wait. If you are looking at using football or basketball to get you to the next level, how do you know which one is best for you right now? That is the question that I posed to him. He is not sure. Of course he has got the dream. He is a fan. If you ask him who his favorite players are, he will mention Lebron James and Chauncey Billups. He doesn’t really have that kind of passion as a fan of a football player. When he looks at what he wants to do, where he wants to go, what is more important to him as far as developing, he is doing it in basketball. He is putting a lot of effort into that, but I don’t think he needs to rush into (a decision) right now.”
Sam Webb: Football and basketball, what both schools are saying to him, what he thinks of both schools, how his visits went.
Don Sims: “As far as Michigan State, of course the basketball is outstanding for him. He knows the coaches andhe knows the players. The facility there is outstanding. He loves that. Tom Izzo... he is good with the kids. He can capture the mental psyche and he has shown a lot of interest in Dion. He was down at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest. He had his staff down there. His staff was at the King James Shootout. They are saying come in to Michigan State, and if you take the football scholarship you can still play basketball here because they have got a track record that shows that it can be done there. They used Matt Trannon as a person that you can talk to… his parents and him… and you can really get a feel for how that worked at Michigan State. The blueprint there is pretty set. (Coach) Dantonio also says that he is willing to release Dion to basketball while under football scholarship. He has done it at Cincinnati as well. They will do what is best for the kid. They say that if he decides in midstream one sport is better for me than the other, they would be in support of allowing him to be 100% in that.”
“Now Michigan, his visit went very well. He got a chance to talk with Coach Rodriguez and Mike Barwis and his staff. I think he really took a liking to (associate director of strength & conditioning, Chris Allen). He works with the speed and agility. He and Dion talked for a while. We toured the facility. We saw the blueprints of the new practice facility that is going up and he seemed to be very interested in what is to come at Michigan. When we talked to Coach Beilein, Beilein was very pointed with him. He really didn’t talk about Dion and how he fits into the basketball system, he talked to him about his progress… how were his grades and what his plan to improve his academic standing? What did he want to study when he went to college? Just putting things in his mind that he had to think about when making a decision. So it wasn’t really a real sale to come here. It was a real sale to say, well hey, ‘what do you want to do with your life? What do you want to do when you make your decision? What is your decision going to be based on?’ I think he really appreciated that as well. Well I know he appreciated it, Dion did. As far as playing both at Michigan, Coach Rodriguez and his staff were saying that they wouldn’t have a problem with it, but only if he could handle it… if he was producing academically as well. They wouldn’t release him to basketball if he was struggling academically or on the borderline, but they didn’t say that it couldn’t be done. They did say that they would entertain the idea if that was something he really wanted to do, but he had to take care of business in order for them to do that.”
“Let me add this too. I think that one of the things that Dion is going to have to this summer is really get before some people that can give him a true evaluation of where he is… people that are associated with the NBA and people that are associated with the NFL… people outside of the college coaches. They can talk to him about what his goal is, what does he want to do? Does he want to try and be a professional athlete? Whatever sport you are choosing, these are the things that you need to do... this a blueprint that you need to follow in terms of your workout in times of your college decision. I just think those who have connected to that industry, we need to go before them a little bit more.”
Sam Webb: You want someone to shoot him the real about what his true potential is.
Don Sims: “Right, right. Because the coaches are saying and I mentioned this earlier, the football coaches are saying that yeah he is a special athlete, but 6’5”, 6’6” in college is in that same mix with everybody else. But 6’5”, 6’6” on the football field at a skill position, you are kind of in a different class. They are selling that and of course they are selling that because they want him to go come to football. They don’t want to discourage his desire to do both, so they say he can do both at their school as well. And they have to say that because it puts them behind if they don’t. I just wonder if that is really legit because you don’t see too many people doing it now. You don’t see that. It just is not common. But he Dion is a gifted guy – has a god gifted talent and I think he can do it.”