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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: With Simmons commitment, Arizona basketball recruiting back to full speed

Courtesy of Kobi Simmon on Twitt
Kobi Simmons, a freshly committed UA basketball recruit, stands with head coach Sean Miller and assistant coach Emanuel Richardson on Sunday, Jan. 17. Simmons captioned the photo “Coaches Came To Visit Me Today !”

Saturday was one of those feel-good days for Arizona basketball head coach Sean Miller. His Arizona Wildcats toppled Washington State after Miller received a verbal commitment from five-star point guard and McDonald’s All-American Kobi Simmons.

The Alpharetta, Georgia native from St. Francis High School became the seventh McDonald’s All-American player in the Miller era.

As Simmons became the second recruit to give Miller the nod to play in Tucson next season—in addition to blooming big man Lauri Markkanen—this recruiting momentum could lead to more eye-opening players joining Miller’s 2016 recruiting class.

“I’ve said it and I’ll say it again tonight—that we’re just getting started,” Miller said in Saturday’s press conference following the win against Washington State. “I believed that this year’s class would be a good one. We’re going to point towards the spring where all the chips will fall and the answers will be here.”

Miller also mentioned he would like to add at least four or five more players. One of those has to include another McDonald’s All-American in 6-foot-7 small forward Josh Jackson, who is the No. 3 prospect in the ESPN Top-100 rankings.

If Simmons’ decision to play for Arizona convinces Jackson to play in Tucson, Miller’s recruiting could take the Wildcats to newer heights.

“We are very active recruiting,” Miller said. “When you look at our front line and who we lose, that will really jump out at you.”

Miller already has a loaded backcourt especially with the strong possibility of Allonzo Trier coming back, but Simmons will look to make an immediate impact as soon as he steps foot on campus.

With his size and skill set, Simmons is already one of the most unique point guards in the 2016 recruiting class. And with a name that is a homonym to NBA legend and five-time champion Kobe Bryant, he will instantly will be placed under the microscope, and respectfully so standing at 6-foot-6 with a lengthy frame.

It’s not official yet that Simmons will arrive in the Old Pueblo. Remember that once upon a time in 2015, McDonald’s All-American power forward T.J. Leaf gave Miller his word and backed out while jetting to UCLA to play with his former teammates.

Thus, Miller was unable to comment on Simmons’ future of the program without a national letter of intent.

With that said, a player like Simmons can highlight any team’s recruiting class with his type of length and athleticism. He has the ability to get to the bucket at will, much like Trier, and also has crafty ball handling skills to get around defenders with ease.

If Simmons is going to the basket, get out the cameras.

According to Max Preps, Simmons is averaging 26.6 points in his final high school season, but less than four assists per game.

Simmons’ game resembles a taller Kyrie Irving and crafty combo guards like him thrive in Miller’s system—just ask a guy like Kadeem Allen.

Before Markkanen committed to Arizona in October, the class of 2016 was starting look murky and as if Miller would have to rely on players returning. There’s nothing wrong with relying on experience, but the luxury of adding the cream of the crop high school players is ideal for Miller.

Anyone who thought Miller was going to take his foot off the gas pedal in recruiting for one season was left with a powerful message.

“Those who have kind of given up on our ability to strike in the class of 2016 are really going down the wrong path,” Miller said.

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