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)

Big South moving 2016 conference tournament

Cliff Ellis
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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.

The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.

It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.

Virginia Tech could redshirt sophomore guard

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Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.

The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.

Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.

“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”

It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.