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Husky Men's Basketball

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August 22, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Desmond Simmons: “I’ve been a hybrid all my life”

desmond simmons.jpg
Had a conversation with Desmond Simmons earlier this month after what I described as the best outing I’d ever seen from the Washington redshirt freshman. We talked about his surgically-repaired knee, his role on the team and which newcomer has surprised him the most.
Simmons compares his game to senior co-captain Darnell Gant. He said he benefited greatly from one-on-one sessions with coach Lorenzo Romar and he talked about 2013 UW recruit Jabari Bird.
Here’s most of the interview.
(How is your summer going?) “My summer is going pretty good. I’m having fun in Seattle. Been in the gym a lot. Been maintaining my health and just been getting better.”
(Did you go at home at all?) “I went home for a week when school got out. I’ve been here in June and July and most of August. I leave on the 17th of August to go back home.”
(One of the main things I notice about you is you’re not wearing a knee brace.) “That’s just something I’m playing with right now. I play with it sometimes. I’ll do a workout or two without it. It doesn’t bother me to play without it. I’m still progressing as far as recovering from that. Sometimes I still play with it, but for the most part I feel comfortable playing without it. There’s no risk playing without it.”
(Do you think you’ll wear it during the season?) “My goal is to play without it, but if Dr. (Chris) Wahl or Pat (Jenkins) our trainer if they feel that it’s something I need to do for another year or another period of time just to make sure, I’m fine with that. But I would rather not play with it.”
(Looking back, what happened with your knee?)

“Pretty much it was a preseason workout. We had open gym the second week I got here. I went up for a rebound, came down and pretty much tore it. I rehabbed real hard. The goal was to try to get back within 3-4 weeks, which was not uncommon for a meniscus tear. When I got back I had a lot of setbacks with it from getting it drained and sitting out of practice because they’re trying to get the swelling down. It was an ongoing thing to where I wasn’t even close to being 50 percent at practice and trying to get minutes to compete. I was not at 100 percent so I wasn’t helping myself or my team. So that was pretty much the decision to redshirt. I was trying to compete not even at 50 percent.”
(So you tore your meniscus, but you decided not to have surgery?) “No I had a scope surgery two weeks after I tore it. I had a MRI then I had a surgery. After the surgery it took me about four weeks to get back on the court.”
(So it wasn’t an evasive-type of surgery?) “No, no, no. It was a simple scope.”
(Looking back, would you have changed anything?) “I think it was one of those things where I was looking at how everybody else recovered from the injury and I said that was my goal. And what everybody was telling me was that this was a quick fix. What I learned for me was that it was something that I should have took 8-9 weeks to heal and seriously rehab. Throughout the whole Pac-10 season I didn’t practice or do anything and that was a whole three months, basically 9½ weeks. I sat out and I did my rehab. And when I got back from that, I was 100 percent. I pretty much just came back too early. If I could go back, I would take more time.”
(You had never been seriously injured before last year, right?) “Never. It was a shock for me.”
(Looking back, how have you handled this past year and sitting out and being away from the game for so long?) “In the beginning it was real hard. I’m not used to sitting out as much as I was and just knowing you’re not going to play it was real hard, but I got over that. I talked to a lot of players and they helped me see the beauty of redshirting and having the time to get healthy and all of that. Looking back, I have no regrets. I feel like I learned a lot. I’ve gotten a lot stronger this past year. I have no regrets.”
(When you’re playing, does any of those thoughts from last year return. I ask that because it was roughly this time of year when you got hurt in one of these pickup games.) “Here and there. On days when I’m feeling a little tired and my body is a little tired. On days like that it might cross my mind, but I try to get that thought out of my mind because I don’t want to think like that.”
(What are you looking to do in these summer league games and open gym workouts?) “I’m looking to rebound, guard, knock down open shots and attack the basket when I have the opportunity. Basically do the things I do. Shoot open shots and attack the basket and rebound.”
(During the season I often saw you and Romar workout before practice on ball-handling drills. That part of your game seems to have improved.) “Definitely. Everyday that was part of my rehab, ball handling and cutting off my knee and stuff like that. He taught me a whole lot. The ball handling wasn’t for me to be able to cross-over and step back over someone in game, but for me to have control of the ball where I can make two-dribble move to the basket where nobody can take it from me. Just simple things like that.”
(Whose idea was that and how often did you guys meet?) “Pretty much me, him and Pat had a conversation on what can I do. Romar was always looking for what can he do while he’s sitting out. Pat said he can do ball handling and stuff when he gets to that point. It was pretty much Romar’s idea and Pat’s idea. It was fine with me because I definitely got a lot better with it.”
(Did Romar do that with everybody?) “Not really. It was pretty much just me and him before or after practice for about 20-30 minutes. Just going through the chairs. He definitely helped me a lot.”
(How cool is that? Or is it nerve-wracking to get that kind of individual treatment from the head coach?) “When I’m with Coach Romar, we joke and we laugh. He pushes you the whole time and it’s not so much pressure to where coach is watching me and I don’t want to mess up. He’s telling me the more you mess up, if you mess up going hard I’m happy with that. He made it easy. He let it be known there’s no pressure and you’re out here trying to get better. And I didn’t put any pressure on myself and soon enough I got better to where I got comfortable doing it.”
(And how often where these sessions?) “We did that like everyday. Everyday before and after practice we talked about what time we’re going to meet the next day.”
(And how long where these sessions?) “If it was before practice it was like 30 minutes. And if it was after practice, maybe 20 or 30 minutes. It was real quick. In and out.”
(I often wonder where do you fit in with this team, but that’s something you’ve probably heard for awhile.) “I think I fit in doing some of the things that Darnell does. Shooting an open jump shot. I feel like I fit in as far as being that toughness guy. That guy that when you see me diving on the floor for loose balls or scrapping or saving balls and throwing it off the other teams body or stuff like that. I think I provide that edge for the team.”
(You don’t really a position do you?) “I’ve been a hybrid all my life. Coming up through high school and pretty much all of my life I’ve heard that he’s a hybrid and he does a lot of things. I’m fine with that. Sooner or later if I find a set position then great. If I don’t, then whatever works work.”
(I haven’t seen you a lot this summer, but in this particular game you played better than ever. Did something happen tonight?) “I just came with the same mindset that I always come with which is do whatever it takes to win. Just one of the things that coach told me was play within myself and let the game come to me. Not that I tried to force anything the other weeks, but today I just felt like I was a little more relaxed and felt more comfortable.”
(The criticism that I had about you was that you were too versatile and I wanted you to excel at one particular area of your game. Have you thought about that?) “Yeah. I’ve asked myself that. Like what position am I or am I going to excel at being a wing or excel at being a post? I can’t really say yet. Like I said, I’m just going to go with what works. I try to improve on all of my game. My post game and being able to go out to the perimeter. I can’t really say what part I want to excel at most right now.”
(Who is the kid from your old school Salesian High that I hear is blowing up?) “Jabari Bird.”
(Have you seen him or talked to him?) “This past two summers we worked out pretty much the whole summer with each other.”
(How good is he?) “He’s good. He’s coming into his own. He’s going to be very talented as he gets older. He’s a hungry kid. Very hungry and he looks to get better. That’s one thing you won’t have to worry about. He wants to get better. He’s not worried about a lot of hype or all of that. He’s very level-headed.”
(Have you talked to him about Washington because I hear the Huskies are on his list?) “I haven’t been able to talk to him about that. I’ll talk to him when I get back home. I’m pretty sure we’ll be working out together and stuff so I’ll be able to get into his ear at that point.”
(A complaint I hear about summer league games is guys aren’t really trying hard. What do you get out of these games?) “For some people it’s the summer league so people look at it like aww whatever, I’m just going to come out here and do whatever and not try to get hurt. For me, I’m a real competitive person. Once it gets going, I want to win. I can walk on the court and say I’m not going to take it that serious, but as soon as the ball goes up, I’m playing hard and I’m trying to win.”
(Have you always been that way?) “If we’re keeping score, then I’m playing to win. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether it’s video games or whatever. In this type of setting where there’s refs and fans, then yeah you want to put on a good show and you want that win. Of course, no one wants to get hurt. You put that above everything else, but for me, every time I step on the court I’m trying to win.”
(Who has surprised you the most of the young guys?) “I never played with Tone (Tony Wroten Jr.) and it’s not that he’s surprised me, but I’d just never played with him. I’d heard all of this stuff about him and he’s good. His passes – when he has the ball in his hands, you can’t take your eyes off of him because he will hit you in the face with a pass. I was amazed with his passing ability. He can get the ball where he wants to.”
(How do you think it will all come together next season?) “I think we’ll be good. Our freshmen, they seem real hungry. They don’t have any kind of swag or act like we’re the stuff. They seem hungry and they listen to us when we talk to them. I think we’ll be pretty good. I think we’ll be a scrappy team.”
(Do you consider yourself a freshman or not so much?) “That’s funny. I thought about that. I’m not really with them yet, but they’re a fun group of kids. It’s not going to feel weird to me after a year. I’ll fit in fine. They’ll be with me on my Senior Night.”



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