The 6-5 junior from Alpharetta (Ga.) St. Francis put together one of the top performances of the tournament on Monday night in front of McGrath, just two days after a strong game in front of Roy Williams.
“Coach Williams was here to watch me,” said Simmons. “UNC, they text me, like every day. They stay in touch and the assistant coach told me that Roy was going to come down and see me play against Montverde. I know he came down after Chicago. He nodded to me and told me good game after the game. UNC’s been in touch a lot.”
In a three-point loss Saturday night against Montverde Academy (Fla.), the No. 1 team in the country, Simmons scored 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting while adding in four rebounds and four assists. Two days later, playing against star 2015 guard Antonio Blakeney, Simmons scored 37 points on 13-of-19 shooting and also totaled seven rebounds and three assists.
“I just came out with the demeanor to get my team the W,” said Simmons. “After the Montverde loss, we just wanted to bounce back from that. We wanted to get back together as a team and anything and everything we do is as a team.”
Simmons is currently ranked No. 8 in the 2016 class by Scout.com and is well aware of the talented guards in his class. He is currently ranked right behind Derryck Thornton Jr. and Dennis Smith and ahead of Seventh Woods, with the latter two both holding UNC scholarship offers.
“I play everybody the same way,” said Simmons. “I’ve faced up against all those guys. All those guys are great players, but I feel like I can be better than every one of them. I just need to continue to show up every game. Anytime someone sees me and then the next time they come see me I improve more.”
Simmons may be right. He towers over other point guards and possesses an explosive first step. While he has the ability to get to the rim at will, Simmons is also a capable shooter from the outside, with six made three’s in the tournament’s first two games.
Schools from all parts of the country are recruiting Simmons and he last made an unofficial visit to Kentucky in the previous month. UNC first showed interest in the fall and the coaching staff has been in regular communication with him since their viewing.
“UNC came into a workout at the school in the open season and ever since then they’ve been in touch every day,” noted Simmons. “The assistant coach told me that Roy was coming to the game and he did, so that’s pretty good. Coach Hubert Davis is the main coach I talk to.”
“I haven’t really been thinking about my visits, just concentrating on my season now,” said Simmons. “I just want to win state, win national tournaments like this and just lead by team to victory. Basically, two-peat in the state.”
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