SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – There's a possibility that five-star guard Anfernee Simons could have his name called in the 2018 NBA Draft. Whether or not he elects to take his chances with the NBA Draft or head to college, he's handling the process with the ease and maturity of a seasoned pro.
At the HoopHall Classic on Sunday, nearly one-third of the NBA teams dispatched personnel to evaluate the 6-foot-4 Floridian, who is playing a prep school year at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG.
During an 81-78 win over Vermont Academy, Simons was 11-of-21 from the field and scored 29 points. He bombed some deep jumpers and showed explosiveness off the floor. If playing in front of so many men who will have input on his immediate future was daunting, the teenager didn't show it.
“I don’t think about it too much," he said. "I just keep working and trying to get better every day. That’s pretty much my main goal.”
The NBA wasn't even something that Simons thought of as an immediate possibility six months ago. He was firmly committed to Louisville, but then Rick Pitino lost his job in the chaos of the federal investigation into college basketball. Somewhere along the line, Simons was informed that he met the NBA's draft requirements.
“I told my parents that maybe this is a good idea," Simons said. "I’m probably going to wait until at least the last signing period to decide if I’m going to keep my name in or go to college.”
I've been around long enough to remember the days when heading to the NBA out of high school was commonplace. Back then, I remember kids would give a song and dance about heading to college but it was pretty clear they had no intentions. In this case, Simons comes off as legitimately serious about wanting to explore college and the NBA equally.
He seems to have the gift of being honest with himself about his future and for that reason he's leaving both doors open. Just a week ago he took an official visit to Tennessee and liked what he saw.
“I liked the atmosphere a lot and I liked coach (Rick) Barnes," he said. "He’s a really good coach and he’s really hands-on with everybody so I like that about them.”
"I like coach (Kevin) Keatts and he’s a good guy," Simons said. " He told me that I could come in and run the show.”
Outside of a visit to Raleigh, Simons isn't yet sure about other visits and hopes to lock those in during the near future. Meanwhile, he'll continue to do the smart thing leaving doors to both the NBA and college open.
Simons is in an envious position – the ability to gather legitimate feedback about his professional potential while simultaneously building the relationships with college coaches.
He has himself to thank for being in such a good spot.