Caught up with freshman Desmond Simmons (left) on Saturday and we talked about his decision to redshirt this season. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee before training camp and the recovery has set him back in terms of learning Washington’s system and fighting for minutes on a talent-laden roster.
Coach Lorenzo Romar said the decision was made Saturday to have Simmons sit out this season so he can concentrate fully on healing his knee.
Romar has talked about the positive aspects of redshirting, citing junior Darnell Gant and redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox. Romar said if he had a son who was going to stay more than one year in college, then he’d advise him to redshirt.
Still, it’s a tough sell to 18-year-old freshmen who are accustomed to playing basketball.
Wilcox once told me: “When you redshirt, people think oh you must not be any good. Guys don’t want to do it because it’s pride thing. They let their ego get in the way of doing what’s best for them in the long run.”
Simmons admitted he didn’t want to redshirt initially and considered playing despite the persistent pain in his knee. He had to sit out practice Monday because fluid was drained from the knee and Simmons said the pain didn’t allow him to play like he’s capable.
Here’s part of the interview.
(So how did you come to this decision?) “I can go day to day most of the time. Since I got the fluid drained out, it’s a lot better. I still had like some days where it was kind of iffy. So it was still affecting my play. Before I got the fluid drained out, it was definitely affecting my play. Just trying to fight through it all season and still trying to compete, it was like almost like a waste of a year because I was playing the whole year (trying to get right). So now I’ll take the time to get it right, be patient with the injury, get this things right and hopefully next year come in 100 percent.”
(When you finally make the decision, is it a relief?) “It’s kind of bittersweet because me being the competitor that I am, it’s so hard to watch. Before when I was just watching practices, I couldn’t stand to watch practice and definitely watching games is really hard. That part is tough. But the better side of it is knowing that I’m going to be able to get a lot better and get back to my normal self and play at the level I know I can play at and at the same time, I’ll be able to extend that level by being able to redshirt and give myself time. Thinking that way, I felt a lot better about my decision, but knowing I’m going to be on the sideline and watching all year is definitely going to be hard.”
(Have you talked to C.J. Wilcox yet?) “I talked to C.J. a little bit. He’s my roommate so I’ll talk to him. I talked to Darnell a little bit. Darnell is like a big brother to me as far as being somebody I can go to for basketball and stuff. So me and Darnell are going to have a talk as well. I talked to him a little bit about it and he’s very positive. I know it’s a tough deal. It’s a lot of working out, but that’s a part of me. That’s why I’m here.”
SO WHAT’S NEXT FOR WASHINGTON?
You wouldn’t think it would be a big deal for a team as talented as No. 18 Washington to lose a freshman who was near the bottom of the rotation and looking at a backup job playing spot minutes.
But consider the Huskies lost backup forward Tyreese Breshers before the season to an undisclosed injury and reserve forward Clarence Trent transferred to Seattle University.
It would be nice to have a few more big bodies on the team because there’s very little depth along the front line.
UW only has three players (Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Aziz N’Diaye and Gant) on scholarship taller than 6-6 and it shouldn’t be a problem against most teams.
Romar’s past teams were relatively small, including a pair of NCAA Sweet 16 squads and UW’s athleticism often times negates opponent’s superior size.
Without Simmons and Breshers, Washington loses big guys known for doing the dirty work. Conceivably those duties shift to Gant because UW can not afford Bryan-Amaning or N’Diaye to get into foul trouble.
And don’t be surprised if 6-9 walk-on Brendan Sherrer is pressed into duty in a non-blowout game.
Simmons has been limited in practice, but when fully recovers he’ll resume workouts, which will help the Huskies who needed to add a practice player, 6-8 Morgan Moxey, because of the lack of big guys. Moxey hopes to walk on next season.
Romar said the starters aren’t “set in stone,” but it appears as if the rotation is rounding into shape.
In the first half Saturday, UW used 10 players. Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, Justin Holiday, Gant and Bryan-Amaning started the game. Venoy Overton and Scott Suggs were the first off the bench followed by N’Diaye, Terrence Ross and Wilcox.