Simmons Pick Ideal Scenario for Hornets

NEW YORK – Hornets general manager Jeff Bower and head coach Byron Scott closely monitored the selections leading up to their picks at No. 12 and No. 15. As the latter portion of the first round progressed, it became clear that something resembling a best-case scenario was unfolding for New Orleans/Oklahoma City.

  • Simmons Headed to New Orleans

    Prior to making the 12th overall choice, the Hornets' draft board listed Connecticut's Hilton Armstrong and North Carolina State's Cedric Simmons as the top two players available. After selecting Armstrong at No. 12, the Hornets managed to also land Simmons at No. 15, despite the fact that Philadelphia and Utah each had picks sandwiched between New Orleans/Oklahoma City's slots.

    "We always looked at a number of different scenarios, and that was one that we really liked," Bower said of drafting both Armstrong and the 20-year-old Simmons. "Over the last week to 10 days, as the draft was shifting and changing, we were working under the guidelines that we really didn't think that would happen. So, obviously we had our contingency plans if they weren't there."

    As it turned out, the Hornets didn't need to resort to Plan B.

    "We had some other options and we liked some other players, but this is one of the scenarios that we weren't going to pass up, getting two young, quality bigs," Bower said. "Both have a chance to add something to the team next year. It's a great night for us."

    ESPN college hoops personality Dick Vitale lauded the Simmons pick, saying the 6-foot-9 forward could develop into a shrewd choice at No. 15.

    "(Simmons is a) shot-blocker, very long – has to really improve offensively – but he's a kid worth taking," Vitale described. "In fact, he was one of my sleepers. I thought a guy like him, Shannon Brown, Shawne Williams are three guys that were going to be excellent choices for whoever took them."

    Interestingly enough, the Hornets brought in both Armstrong and Simmons to the same workout on June 15, interested to see the two players go head-to-head. They did more than that – Simmons accidentally elbowed Armstrong in the nose, forcing Armstrong to the sideline before the conclusion of the workout.

    Armstrong later answered questions from reporters with a bag of ice on his nose to try to reduce the swelling.

    "I felt really bad about injuring Hilton," an apologetic Simmons told of the accident. "I got him in the nose, and I was like, ‘Man, that's not good.' I just hope (Hornets player evaluators) don't think I'm a dirty player."

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