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)