#34 / Forward / Central Michigan Chippewas
For being just a freshman, John Simons did quite a lot for the Chippewas last season. Freshmen sometimes have trouble getting acclimated to the MAC style of play (aka all the fouls called by the awful refs). But, Simons stepped up big, pouring in seven and a half points per game and five rebounds. What's more impressive was that he was able to come in from Day 1 and be the starting power forward. Many freshmen wouldn't be able to live up to that kind of pressure, but Simons embraced it.
Simons proved he was going to be a good MAC player in a seven-game stretch in the late November/December where he scored in double figures in six of those games. That included a fourteen-point, five-rebound showing at B1G foe Nebraska and a career high seventeen against Texas State. Simons ability to get to the free throw line and knock them down certainly helped out. His best games came when he got to the line multiple times, especially the game against Youngstown State. Simons ended up 8-8 from the line and 4-5 from the floor for sixteen points.
For Simons to be more effective this season he'll have to get to the line as much as possible. He's a great free throw shooter for a big man (76.4%) and can get teams with thin frontcourts in trouble by getting them to foul him. He's also a strong rebounder at five per game but that should improve. Simons placed eighteenth in the conference in that category but should end up in the top ten at the end of this season.
Central Michigan will be looking for him to score more as the loss of leading scorer Kyle Randall will open opportunities up for him. Olivier Mbaigoto also graduates, so his position has become a little thinner. Simons averaged 27 minutes per game last year and I wouldn't be surprised if that number got into the thirties with the Chippewas lack of proven depth. It's likely going to be another mediocre year in Mt. Pleasant, but Simons can become one of the MAC's best big men.
Coming tomorrow: #23