After a breakout year as a sophomore that saw him help lead the Wolfpack to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Simmons left for the NBA. Now a rookie for the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, Pack Pride caught up with Cedric before a game in Dallas to discuss his rookie season and short stint at NC State.
Despite spending only two seasons in Raleigh, Simmons maintains a strong attachment to NC State. "I had a good career there," he said. "My freshman year was slow but in my sophomore year, I showed improvement. After that, I decided it was time to head to the NBA."
"Yes, it's kind of weird being back here," he said. "Every time I come back, I think about the Texas game, how many fans they had and that it was like a home game for them. But at the same time, I am kind of used to the goals and like playing in this arena a lot."
From the moment he declared for the draft, Simmons was a likely lottery pick. The only question was who would select him.
"I knew the Hornets had a good chance of picking me," he admitted. "I figured that I might fall to 15 or 16, but I really had no idea where I was going or who would take me. I just knew a lot of teams liked me in the top 15."
Like many rookies, coming to the NBA has required adjustments.
"The increased travel and the speed of the game have been the biggest adjustments for me," he said. "Playing on back-to-back nights has also been a big challenge. Some games, I had played 20-25 minutes the night before and then, I have to come in the next night and play that much again. Sometimes my legs get heavy on me around the third or fourth quarter."
Cedric also is aware of what he needs to do to become a better pro.
"I know I need to work on my midrange jump shot," Simmons stated. "I also need to get stronger. Right now, I am just trying to outwork guys who are bigger and stronger than me so they don't lay on me so much. I just try to stay away from that and run the floor hard every chance I get."
Even with the Hornets, Simmons can't escape his days with the Wolfpack.
"I think I finished second in career blocks behind Thurl Bailey," he said. "I hear the coaches around here mention his name all the time. At first, I really didn't know or understand the importance of it. But I still have that State pride in me and that's a good thing."
Despite having less than 35 NBA games under his belt, former NC State men's basketball star Cedric Simmons looks to be getting acclimated to the NBA quite well. Only 21, he has a bright future ahead of him and every time he hits the floor, is sure to represent NC State well.