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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)

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.