In Minnesota, and by most in the nation, 6-foot-9 frontcourt prospect Jericho Sims is considered the top prospect in the state now that Gary Trent Jr has transferred to Findlay Prep. But just 18 months ago Sims had barely earned a top 20 spot in Minnesota. What changed? His coaches tell us today.
Al Harris coached Jericho after his sophomore high school season when he led Net Gain Sports in 2015 and Sims played up a level with the 2016s. Harris then joined the D1 Minnesota staff this year and again coached Sims from April through the end of July.
Harris has seen first hand a 2017 prospect grow from a player with potential but little energy to one of the nation’s best frontcourt prospects.
“Jericho was always a very skilled player but what I saw in him when I first started coaching him was that he didn't understand or know how to play at a consistent level with a high motor,” Jericho said.
“As he became more and more mature, continued his development, and our relationship grew stronger he has really improved not only his ability but his awareness of how he can impact the game in so many areas has also extremely improved.”
Once the motor picked up the production did as well. And at 6-foot-9 with incredible length, one of the best vertical bounces nationwide, and a low post game that has become more about reaction and comfort than thinking about every move, Sims has found consistent results against nationally ranked prospects.
He’s hit a new level of scholarship offer with Texas, UCONN, and Ohio State and others extending plus schools like North Carolina are still checking in. So what’s next? With Jericho’s potential the sky is the limit.
“Jericho’s upside is tremendous,” said Harris. “A player that is highly motivated, willing to work and physical attributes that still has so much opportunity for growth. Strongest quality he has is he's so coachable and an extremely focused positive kid.”
Sims attends Cristo Rey Jesuit High School which is located in downtown Minneapolis attached with the Collin Powell Center. Cristo Rey Jesuit has a 9-12 enrollment of 227 kids and is a Class A level school (smallest class in Minnesota).
Cristo Rey Jesuit’s doors are opening for the tenth year next month so it’s relatively new. The Jaguars had no reputation as a basketball school when Jericho enrolled but that’s not what he went to school there for. Many wondered why or when Jericho would transfer but Cristo Rey Jesuit has been ideal for Jericho’s development in all ways.
“The work study program at Cristo Rey Jesuit has been outstanding for Jericho,” said his High School Coach Stanley Clay. “Working in a business environment teaches kids so many valuable lessons that help in life and on the court.
“Be on time, be respectful, be responsible, work hard. The work study program has taught Jericho to be accountable and has allowed him to grow as a player by bringing those same work ethics to the basketball court.”
Clay has seen the same maturation from Jericho during the school year that Harris has seen during AAU play.
“Jericho has grown immensely in four years,” Clay explained. “From a quiet, skinny freshman who relied on athleticism and natural abilities to become an athlete, a leader someone who takes pride in the preparation. Someone who loves to learn the game, will do anything to help his teammates succeed.
“Every day he wants to get better and that has shown with the amount of work he has put in to improve his game. We have challenged him over the years to become more vocal, be a leader, and he has accepted that role very well. He has always had the talent, now he has learned how to put it together.”
This past June I arrived at the Collin Powell Center for the Northstar Hoops Report State Tournament. My goal was to be the first person there to help get ready for the event. I did not accomplish my goal. I was beaten by Sims who had to work the scoring tables that night so after school he spent a couple hours working on his low post game.
That work ethic has led to 23 major conference offers and of those offers, head coaches from Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas State, Iowa State, Xavier, and Oregon were a constant at Jericho’s games this past July. Assistants from Texas, Creighton, Memphis, Dayton, Illinois, Illinois, North Carolina, and a few others were also constants with head coaches coming to a few games as well.
Jericho has the chance to play for one of those schools but where? He’s been on two unofficial trips to Nebraska, one to Kansas State, and several unofficial visits to Minnesota. So far one visit is planned, one is expected next month, and others are likely to planned soon as well.
“They are going to be discussing (visits) this week,” said Clay of Jericho and his family. “I know (a visit is planned for (the Gophers maybe in September but nothing was final.”
“Texas is only visit scheduled so far &and that's weekend of August 25th,” said Harris.
Wherever Jericho visits and wherever he plays, he’s a success story of development and many have helped him including AAU coaches and programs, his high school coaches, the high school programs itself, his family, and most of all, Jericho has helped himself get to this point.