Husky commit Desmond Simmons can’t wait to be Dawg, but first he has some business to take care of. The 6-foot-7 senior forward is on a mission to lead Salesian High School on back-to-back Division IV State Championship runs. The Pride (32-2) got past Modesto Christian Saturday night 69-65 in a quarterfinal matchup in large part because of Simmons’ 34 points and 20 rebounds. The Pride fought from 13 down at half to pull out the win and advance to the semifinals to take on St. Mary’s.
“At this point it’s either win or go home and I wasn’t going to let us go home,” said Simmons. “Now we play next saturday and are two wins away from another state title.”
For his future team, it seemed like it was win or no NCAA Tournament birth for the final month of the season. After losing five out of seven, it appeared the season was lost. But Washington was able to turn things around, winning 12 of their last 14 games, including the Pac-10 Tournament title.
“I really thought it was possible,” Simmons said of the turnaround. “In the beginning they won a bunch of games then just hit a bump in the road. They actually only struggled away from home and then people started to question how good they were. But I always had confidence they would figure things out, there is just too much talent on that team not to.”
So what did Simmons see that led to the resurgence?“They really started playing with more urgency and it all started on defense,” he explained. “Then everything else just started coming together for them. They got a couple of wins on the road and started to build confidence. From what I saw down the stretch, especially in the Pac-10 Tournament, they just knew they had to get it done and really found that will to win. In the Tournament they just refused to lose and were on a mission. They weren’t going to let anything stop them.”
Simmons liked what he saw out of the Dawgs in the Pac-10 Tournament, especially the play of their lone senior Quincy Pondexter. In fact, when asked who his game most resembled, Simmons quickly pointed to the Husky leader.
“I would say it’s Quincy Pondexter since he can go inside and out,” he said. “I do that a lot on my team in high school. I play the wing and can attack from the perimeter but I can also bang in the paint. Plus Quincy rebounds the heck out of the ball and that is the best part of my game. I suppose the things he does well are the things I pride myself in.”
But Simmons knows he still has a lot of room for growth before he steps foot on Montlake.
“I definitely need to get stronger so I can take on contact and finish in the paint. But I need to get stronger and quicker at the same time. Really I need to get better at everything and just become the best player I can be before I arrive at UW.”
Known as a shutdown defender and tireless rebounder, Simmons is going to be a welcomed addition to Lorenzo Romar’s run and gun attack.