Scouting Cedric Simmons

I was fortunate to get down to Pender County last week and watch future NC State basketball player Cedric Simmons. Pack fans, let me tell you, I was in no way disappointed.


When I drove down to Burgaw North Carolina last week to check out West Brunswick play an away game at Pender County I was not sure what kind of player I would be seeing in Cedric Simmons. I had read that he was a very gifted big man but a little raw around the edges. West Brunswick Coach Dan McGougan had told me similar things in the background interviews I made with him prior to my visit.


"He is a player with good physical size. He is long, in the 6'8"-6'9" range. He has long arms. He is an athlete who can run and jump, but he is still developing his basketball skills" said McGougan. "He is working on his offense. He can play with his back to the basket but he is just as effective facing the basket. He has a good medium range shot, but he has yet to put the 3-ball together in a game yet. He has done it in practice, but not in a game yet."


Cedric and his mom Mire

Coach McGougan also told me he had a young team. "We have a very young team with some very young guards who have had a hard time getting Cedric the ball at times. They have improved but they are still young. We have managed to get five conference wins which is an improvement for us."


Between the young guards and a developing star, I was not sure exactly what Brunswick had in store for me, but I was excited just the same to see who some call the best Junior Prospect in the state.


When West Brunswick took to the floor, my first impression was that Simmons looked taller than 6'8". He looked to be in the 6'10"-6'11" range with long arms. He ran the floor like a small forward and he was smooth in the warm-ups. He made some short 10'-12' jumpers and showed a nice touch when passing the ball to his teammates. As the pre-game came to a close, I was thinking of Cedric more as a "Thurl Bailey" type of player rather than a traditional power forward.


Once the game got started, Cedric was quick to show me why he is considered a power player. What I saw over the first few minutes was very much what I had seen when Georgia Tech's Chris Bosh takes the court for the Jackets. He is tall, quick, yet basketball strong around the goal. His potential oozes out of his game. He is a great shot blocker who can play close to medium range on offense.


State fans, I tell you no lie, Simmons is a cross between Bosh and Bailey. He runs the floor like Bailey and shows all the mid-range potential you can ask for in a big man. However, when he sets his body in a post-up or defends in the paint, he looks to be very Bosh-tough around the basket.


Coach McGougan had given me fair warning about his team's youthful nature. When watching Cedric, I had to keep in mind that he was often being limited by the talent that surrounds him. To be fair to the West Brunswick team, it is not that their team is no good; it is just that Cedric makes those around him (including opposing players) look weak. He is just that talented.


As the game progressed in the first quarter, Cedric was called for two quick offensive fouls. He got whistled for getting the defender on his hip, then he spread his legs while leaning back to get position. His height is such, that when he made the lean, he would actually have the smaller defender under him. The referees called two quick ones, and to be honest, I'm still not sure how a 6'10" player being able to post on top of a defender is a foul. In my opinion, he got penalized for being the taller player.


Speaking of the spread, it was what impressed me the most about Simmons on offense. He knows how to work to get position and he works extremely hard at it. NC State fans have longed to see a big man that would take a post position and claim it as his own. They will see just that in 2004. When Cedric decides he wants a place around the basket, he knows how to use his long arms and legs to get what he wants.


Simmons' height and the way he spreads his body out when posting opposing players makes him a huge target. He becomes at least five foot wide when he posts his man up. It makes it very hard for any single defender to deny him the ball. For the game, Cedric finished 7 for 13 from the field (2 dunks) and 4 for 6 from the line. He scored 18 points.


The opponents of West Brunswick have figured out this out about defending Simmons. What Pender did on this night was to play a zone and anytime Cedric touched the ball, there are at least one or two players that collapse around him, forcing the less talented guards to be the bread winners. In the majority of the games this year, it has worked. West Brunswick had a record of 8-13 as of last week.


You can see the offensive potential every time he sets himself in the post. If Coach Sendek and staff can surround him with equal talent, say a Marquie Cooke, from the class of 2004, then Cedric will score in a big time way for the Pack. The visions I have of the inside/outside game that NC State would possess are simply mind boggling.


Defensively, Cedric is superb. He has extremely long reach. He may be 6'10" be he plays defensively much taller. Everything that is put up close to the basket is altered. When Pender first went inside, Cedric altered their first three shots. You could see them raising the arc of every inside shot they took after that. For the game, Cedric had 6 blocks and 3 alters. He also snagged 8 rebounds and had 2 steals.


Pack Pride Top Stories