Ricmond (CA) Salesian
Class of 2010
Background: Already known in California, Simmons got his first shot in front of national scouts at last summer's Nike Hoop Jamboree. The Jamboree, is Nike's Junior All-American camp and annually features 120 or so of the nation's top freshman and sophomores who are looking to cement their reputations or put themselves onto the map nationally. While I liked activity level at the time, I saw him as a slightly undersized four man (he was about 6-6) and worried a little about his overall skill level. While putting together my evaluation on him, I wrote, "Few, if any, players in camp had a better motor than this energetic kid. A jack of all trades but master of none, he relies on making hustle plays to set up the jumpers, drives and dunks that he does get. A good defender with a lot of pride, he lacks the ball handling and consistent shot to be able to play on the perimeter full time."
Strengths: Moving ahead a year, there's no question that Simmons hustle, hard work and commitment to doing anything his team needs from him remain endearing qualities. Now grown to a legit 6-foot-7 and having filled out his frame, he's much better equipped to handle himself on the interior where his lion's heart, quickness around the rim, long arms and great timing allow him to be very effective. On the perimeter, he's developed into a fairly reliable stand still shooter who can spot up and bury some jumpers from between 12 feet and the three point line. Above anything else, and this is hardest to describe, he's got a penchant for making positive plays. Sometimes that means a big dunk to spark a rally, other times it's as simple as a deflected pass at just the right time.
Weaknesses: At his size, Simmons would appear to be a bit of a tweener. He lacks either the ideal height for a post player and isn't quite as skilled or quick on the perimeter as your typical college wing player. While his shot has improved, he still shoots a bit of a set shot that requires him to have a little more time and space to square and fire. Perhaps the biggest issue, would be that he appears to lack the ball handling skills to set up his own shot or be a reliable driver from perimeter on a consistent basis.
College Projection: With the way that the power forward spot has changed over the past couple of years, Simmons seems ideally suited to play the four in college. His quickness, determination and relentlessness are huge qualities and the perimeter skills that he does have make him just enough of a threat from outside to develop into a mismatch problem at the power forward spot. Take a look at how a guy like Missouri's DeMarre Carroll was utilized and it's not entirely impossible to see Simmons eventually developing into a similar type player.
Final Thoughts: Sometimes you have to throw conventional evaluation out the window and recognize a player who is always making positive contributions. That's the case with Simmons. Consider him a jack of all trades type who may not have yet mastered any one area outside of his contagious effort level. He's a legitimate top 75 type recruit on the national scale who should be able to add some toughness and versatility. His improvement from this time last year has been quite remarkable and his added size has certainly helped turn him into a very fine pickup for the Huskies.