Coming out of high school a year ago, Ohio was one of many highly interested schools that ultimately lost out on the Jaaron Simmons sweepstakes. The 3-star point guard out of Dayton's Archbishop Alter High School chose to go to Houston over offers from several solid mid-major programs, including Wichita State, Dayton and Ohio. Fast forward a year, and Simmons is the latest member of the Ohio roster.
After appearing in 32 games for the Cougars this past season as their backup point guard, Simmons requested a release and sought a transfer when former head coach James Dickey was fired, in hopes of getting closer to home and opened up his recruiting process once again.
"You just start over, just like high school again," Simmons said of the recruiting process after getting his release from Houston.
Ohio's new head coach, Saul Phillips immediately got involved in recruiting the promising young floor general to Athens. Just a few weeks earlier three members of the 'Cats 2014 recruiting class were released from their National Letters of Intent; all were signed before second-year head coach Jim Christian left for the same position at Boston College and Phillips was brought in from North Dakota State to replace him.
Phillips brought Simmons to Athens over the weekend, and Simmons took to Twitter Monday afternoon to announce his decision:
Ultimately, it was Phillips' past success, as well as the Bobcats track record as a solid mid-major basketball program with recent success in the NCAA Tournament, that led to Simmons choosing to take his talents to Athens.
"He's a great coach," Simmons said of Phillips. "He's been to the NCAA Tournament a couple times and had success in the NCAA Tournament, and he's real high on player development.
"It's not really like with a new coach. He's not really starting over because Ohio's already had a pretty good team there, so I'm just coming in and being able to fill a spot in the years I'm eligible to play."
Per NCAA regulations, Simmons, who averaged 24 points per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the field as a high school senior, will have to sit out the 2014-2015 season, but will have three years of eligibility left beginning in the 2015-2016 season. That's good news for a team graduating its two point guards after the upcoming season.
But Simmons doesn't plan to let the redshirt year go to waste. Though he can't play in any games, his main objective is still the same:
"Stay on the court," he told Hustle Belt, emphatically. ."Get better at a lot of things I need to improve on. Build relationships and build chemistry with my teammates and my coaches, and do what I need to do academically."
With Phillips' strength in player development, the year of practice in the system should help Simmons—already a supremely talented guard—improve his skills and jump into a leadership role when he's eligible to return to the court in 2015-2016.
"Win. That's it," Simmons said of what he wants to achieve during his career as a Bobcat. "I want to make it to the NCAA Tournament, win the MAC regular season, win the MAC Tournament championship. Just win. That's all I want to do is win."