The offseason doldrums have got fans thinking about next season and beyond. While the Cats are poised to have a national title campaign in 2014-15, they’re also bringing in a boatload of talent for the following season in 2015-16. Here’s a look at one of the 2015 commits, guard Justin Simon.
Out of Temecula Valley, the 6-4 guard will play his senior year at basketball powerhouse Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
The first thing you’ll notice about Simon, other than his familiar surname, is his tremendous length. He has long, rangy arms, which allow him to create steals and deflections and otherwise wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball.
At the Team USA U18 tryouts in Colorado, Simon measured in with an incredible 6-11.25 wingspan, easily the largest difference between height and wingspan of all players at the prestigious camp. By comparison his standing reach of 8-7 was higher than Duke’s star freshman Justise Winslow, a 6-6 wing.
He has a lean build with a lot of room for muscle, weighing in at 192 lbs at the Team USA camp. But Simon remains a lockdown defender because of his quickness, height, and length.
While Simon is capable of handling point guard duties, he’s a player that will contribute across multiple positions and statistical categories.
He has great vision and ball handling ability, which allows him to create opportunities for his teammates. Simon’s crafty passing and unselfish style of play will go a long way with fans when he gets to Arizona.
With his size and length, Simon will also be able to slide to the shooting guard or small forward position depending on matchups. He can defend either position, and his athleticism on the wing could be a big boost to the Wildcats’ transition game since he can handle the ball and finish at the rim off a turnover.
But for all of Simon’s positive qualities, don’t be surprised if it takes him awhile to get used to the college game.
Simon’s most natural position is point guard, but a sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright would seem to be Arizona’s main option for floor general after TJ McConnell graduates. Jackson-Cartwright should be in for big minutes as McConnell’s heir, so Simon’s role at the position would be minimal at best.
And he’s still refining his offensive game, particularly his shooting, so playing on the wing would pose some difficulties for a lineup that needs scoring from the backcourt.
Simon might actually be most easily utilized at the small forward position, where his versatility and play-making would be on display. Either way, Simon’s lack of a true position will be an obstacle in securing a consistent role early in his career.
That’s not a knock on Simon at all. Freshman are supposed to need time to develop and mature. That’s one of the most fun aspects of following college basketball.
The bottom line is that Simon is a diversely talented player that is going to be useful in many phases of the game for Arizona. The development of his game over the next few seasons will be a fun journey, and could reap big benefits for the Wildcats down the line.