Believe it or not, I have had the privilege of watching Desmond Simmons play on more than one occasion.
Two years ago during a Christmas break tournament in San Diego, my high school went down to compete and had the opportunity to play Salesian in the opening round (also the final year of when Clarence played for Gig Harbor). Being the “stat rat” for the team, Coach McIntosh had me come down for the tournament as well.
Salesian had a very good team, one that would finish second in the tournament to an east coast school. On that second place team there was the skinny freshman that I remembered most from that team. When I heard about this same kid making a commitment to the Huskies, it immediately brought up the vague memories I had of that basketball game.
I remember inserting the information into the program to record the stats at the beginning of the Gig Harbor-Salesian game, and the surprise of typing in a freshman in the starting lineup for the opposing team that was stacked with seniors.
That alone was a signal of the talent Simmons possessed. But “Des” (as his coaches called him during the game) impressed mightily on the floor to validate that starting spot. While his height was cancelled out due to the length of Clarence and Mathias Ward (redshirt this season for Montana), he had some impressive post moves and ball handling ability that got him into double-digit scoring.
But the aspect of Simmons game that stood out to me the most was his incredible defensive prowess. He had the ability to defend on the perimeter with our primary shooter Geoff McIntosh (freshman for Northern Oklahoma JC), and go back down low to provide defensive help on Mathias in the paint.
When the game finished with Salesian eventually beating Gig Harbor in a close game, the stat line that stood out to me the most was the skinny freshman that caused so much defensive havoc. If Simmons is anything like that one game I recorded against my high school, there is a complete ballplayer coming to Seattle next year.
In the next days of the tournament, we had the opportunity to watch Salesian play a couple more games, and it was the same skinny freshman that always stood out on the court.
From what I gather from reading about Simmons to compliment my few games of scouting him, he seems to have grown more as a scorer but still maintained the strong defensive presence on the court. He seems to be a Justin Holiday with a stronger scoring ability, and someone who could develop into the great four year player that every college coach in America is looking for in each recruiting class.
Judging from his championship game performance last season of 31 points and 19 rebounds in a Salesian win, there is a lot of good things to expect from Simmons when he joins the Huskies in 2009-2010.