Versatility is 2015 guard Justin Simon’s best attribute

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In this era of grassroots/high school basketball there’s often a rush to pigeonhole a player into a certain position. If he’s labeled as a point guard, one of the first follow-up questions is whether or not he’s “traditional” point guard. While there certainly are particular characteristics a college program wants its floor general to possess, what happens if the early move to “specialize” backfires?

That’s the question for Temecula Valley (Calif.) High point guard Justin Simon, who continues the process of developing despite his emergence at the position. At 6-4 Simon definitely has the size needed to be a matchup problem for opposing point guards, and he’s developed a versatility over the years that allows him to excel at any of the three positions on the perimeter.

“He’s a guard. Don’t really know which specific position (point or shooting guard) he is but he’s a guard,” said Gamepoint 16U Red head coach Akmura Deen following the team’s victory at the Las Vegas Fab 48 on Thursday.

“He can get guys involved, he can get to the basket and finish, and he can also defend and rebound. You can put him anywhere from one to three, and even one to four depending on the matchup.”

At this stage Simon’s versatility is what has helped him stand out, and college programs have noticed his development overf the past year. The biggest difference according to Simon has been his improved consistency.

“People knew that I could get to the basket, but they wanted to know if I could do it on a consistent basis,” said Simon, who also noted the development of a “killer instinct” that he admitted was not present last summer.

But with that change comes the need to properly balance attacking for his own offense and making sure that his teammates are taken care of as well.

“I have to be a leader on this team and get other guys going while also creating opportunities for myself.”

With Simon’s ability to make things happen off the dribble, there’s also the need to develop a consistent perimeter shot. That’s the area both player and coach have pinpointed as what needs the most work this summer, as opponents can dare Simon to consistently make those shots at present time.

“I’ve been working on my jump shot all year long, looking to be more consistent and removing the hitch in my shooting motion,” Simon noted.

“I’d like to see his shooting ability from the perimeter improve,” said Deen. “At this level he can get to the basket but in college, teams are going to be able to defend that so he has to be able to mix things up.”

At this stage in his recruitment Simon’s hearing from schools across the country, with Cal, New Mexico, San Jose State, Santa Clara and Villanova among the programs according to Simon. And if he can make the necessary improvements on his shot, it’s likely that the rising junior will receive even more attention from college programs.

(Image via Scout.com)

Ingram scores 15, leads No. 6 Duke past pesky Yale 80-61

Marshall Plumlee, Matt Jones, Amile Jefferson
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Freshman Brandon Ingram scored 15 points and played a key role in the defensive switch that helped No. 6 Duke beat Yale 80-61 on Wednesday night.

Matt Jones had 17 points and Grayson Allen scored 15 for the Blue Devils (5-1), while Ingram sparked Duke out of a lethargic start with his pressure as the front man after the switch to a 1-3-1 zone defense.

Freshman Luke Kennard finished with 12 points for the Blue Devils, who finally took control with a 17-2 run during a 5 1/2-minute span that bridged the halves. Duke outscored Yale 42-25 in the second half.

Justin Sears scored 19 points and Makai Mason had 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-2). The preseason favorites in the Ivy League led for all but 90 seconds of the first half but shot just 30 percent after the break.

The clear difference was Duke’s switch late in the first half to that zone defense with the 6-foot-9 Ingram out in front – where he could disrupt Yale’s ballhandlers, get his 7-3 wingspan into passing lanes and pester the perimeter shooters.

Yale, which shoots 40 percent from 3-point range, was just 4 of 15 in this one. Duke finished with 12 steals and forced 13 turnovers, turning them into 16 points.

That defensive pressure sparked the game-turning run, with the zone forcing turnovers on consecutive trips down court that Duke turned into transition buckets.

Ingram later took a steal coast to coast for a layup that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead at 48-38 with 16:43 to play. Allen capped the decisive run with a layup on the next trip down court.

They eventually pulled away, pushing the lead into the 20s on a jumper with 2 1/2 minutes left by Amile Jefferson, who finished with 12 rebounds.

The lopsided final score was surprising because Duke was in trouble for virtually the entire first half. Yale routinely outworked the Blue Devils and generated easy baskets – none easier than Mason’s unimpeded drive across the lane for a layup that put the Bulldogs up 27-20 with 7 1/2 minutes left before the break.


VIDEO: Colorado player ejected for biting another player

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Colorado is playing Air Force tonight.

For some reason or another, Colorado’s Tory Miller got mad at Air Force’s Hayden Graham.

So he bit him.


At least he didn’t pretend that he teeth hurt after getting bit.

Miller, obviously, was ejected. Colorado ended up winning the game.