Jaaron Simmons chose substance over style as he looked for a new school to play his final season of college basketball.
If you hadn’t heard his name (pronounced JUH-ron) before today, that was by design. The Ohio University point guard didn’t care for attention from fans and media this past month. Instead, he assembled a team of advisors, ran an analysis, and contacted schools he liked. Michigan reciprocated interest, and it resulted in a commitment to the Wolverines.
At a press conference earlier today, John Beilein would not comment on Simmons. But the graduate transfer said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that Beilein likes the way Simmons runs a team. Simmons said he was told he could come in and make an impact as a graduate transfer.
He was drawn to Michigan because he feels it was his best shot to win in his final year of college eligibility and play in the NCAA Tournament.
“The potential to do some special things next year,” he said when asked about the Michigan pitch. “They like the way I operate at the point guard position. The way I run the team. They want me to come in and be a point guard and do the things I do.”
That is, of course, if he plays college ball next season. Simmons is still exploring the possibility of the NBA. If that sounds absurd, it’s simply the Division I landscape in 2017. Beilein is aware of this possibility, according to Simmons. The NBA Draft Combine runs from May 10th through 14th with invitations expected soon while the NBA withdrawal deadline is May 24th for college players.
The 6’1″, 184-pounder out of Dayton, Ohio was not accepted into the Michigan program simply because of his on-court skills. Beilein has been adamant recently that any new addition would have be a fit in the program. Don’t discount the effect that team chemistry had on last season’s success.
“We have a tremendous culture in that locker room,” Beilein said at Michigan’s team banquet when asked about the possibility of adding a graduate transfer to the roster. “(You want to) make sure you don’t do anything that gets in the way of that culture.”
Simmons, who was on campus Easter weekend, appears to be a fit.
“I hung out with players during my visit,” he said. “Coach is big on character. He was always preaching that. I feel like I can fit that description.”
Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game last year, earning All-MAC First Team honors. Ohio went 20-11 (11-7), including a win at Georgia Tech in which Simmons tallied 17 points and nine assists. He hasn’t yet decided about his course of action for the next month; like whether he’ll participate in NBA workouts.
For now, he can only reflect on the decision he already made: to come to Michigan. Simmons views it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“It’s a great academic school. Having the opportunity to go to one of the top colleges in the country can help set you up for a long time after basketball.”