Pretty soon, elite point guard prospect Kobi Simmons will be cutting down his list of schools – a list that includes not only Syracuse University, but also the University of North Carolina, Kentucky University, the University of Arizona, and Ohio State University, among others. Although the Orange were all in on Tyus Battle, who committed to the Michigan Wolverines, Syracuse is still expected to make that list of finalists for the 6-foot-5 Simmons.
When Battle selected Michigan over the Orange, there was a sense of panic among Syracuse fans. After all, this was a top 15 talent who Jim Boeheim and his staff had been chasing for several years, and it had the appearance of putting all of the 2016 eggs in a single basket. Fortunately, the Orange had kept up communication with Simmons, and now Syracuse has a chance to land the best “consolation prize” they could possibly hope for.
Simmons is rated as the No. 5 overall player in the class of 2016 by ESPN, and the Alpharetta, Georgia has all the tools to become an absolute star at the next level. He’s got the combination of size and skill to be a one-and-done player, and a genuine difference maker for the 2016-2017 season. Watching his highlights (there are numerous videos out there – go check them out, in addition to the one above), the first thing that jumps out is how long and athletic he is. You can tell why Jim Boeheim chose to target him, and is no doubt salivating at the prospect of placing him at the top of the zone. He could be an absolute terror from that aspect.
From a build standpoint, Simmons is very, very thin – when he’s wearing his No. 2 jersey, he’ll remind Orange fans of BJ Johnson – but is quick and explosive. He’s got a terrific first step, and because he’s so tall and rangy it’ll only take him a couple of steps to get to the rim once he gets past his defender. He’s a scorer who takes advantage of his combination of size and skill to slice through defenses, and has the leaping ability to finish high above the rim and the body control to alter his shot in the air and finish off the glass.
The one knock that people will quickly notice is that his jump shot mechanics are a little bit screwy. Once he gets the ball up over his head his release looks fine, but it’s the step before that that coaches will no doubt try to address at the next level. Simmons has a tendency to start the ball low and in front of his face, which slows down his shooting motion. It also tends to cause him, as a right handed player, to swing the ball up and around from left to right, which is yet another delay that could cause him problems at the college level. When Division I players are closing out on you at the next level, you need to be able to get your shot off quickly, and where Simmons starts his shot could cause some issues in being able to effectively get his shot away. Once he gets the ball up his release is quick, but it’s that starting point that is going to need to be addressed.
As a ballhandler, Simmons has a strong handle and should easily transition to running the point at the next level. He’s got excellent court vision and awareness and delivers his passes on target, and is really more of a true point guard than Tyus Battle so in a sense, he might wind up fitting a Syracuse need better than Battle, considering Kid Mamba is really more of a shooting guard who Boeheim and Mike Hopkins wanted to transition to the point guard position. That won’t be a worry with Simmons, as he’s a natural fit at the point guard position and, if he signs with the Orange, will probably remind some Syracuse fans of Michael Carter-Williams based on his size, passing ability, and ability to attack the rim.
The best bet for Syracuse to land a difference making point guard is in Georgia, with either Simmons or Alterique Gilbert. And now please excuse me while I make two terrible jokes. Why two? Because I couldn’t decide which is worse, so you’re all going to suffer for it…
“Syracuse may have lost the Battle, but if they can land Simmons they could still win the war.”
“The Orange may have missed out on landing Mamba, but they still have a chance to get a Kobi.”