Shaka Smart and the VCU basketball program capped off an impressive 2013 recruiting class this morning with a highly-recruited 3-star big man out of Miami in 6’9 240-pound Antravious Simmons. He averaged 26 ppg and 15 rpg last season as a junior and selected the Rams today over Alabama and former VCU head coach Anthony Grant. Simmons played for Kenny Gillion of Team Breakdown on the AAU circuit and plays his high school ball under Robert Doctor at South Miami H.S. in Miami, Florida.
The 6’9 center was ranked #143 in the 2013 Rivals150 prior to the latest update (now 3-stars, unranked) and the #27 C (3-stars) prospect in 2013 according to Scout. According to ESPN, Scout, and Rivals, Simmons also boasted offers at one point or another from Georgia, Kansas State, Memphis, South Carolina, Miami, Mississippi State, South Florida, Murray State, Temple, and UCF. He held additional offers from Maryland, Clemson, Marshall, Florida International, and Florida Gulf Coast that aren’t listed on those sites.
Simmons played football as a left offensive tackle at South Miami H.S. prior to this season and shed more than 40 pounds after dropping football to focus on his basketball career. He started off at 6’6, 290 lbs as a freshman and is now at 6’9, 240 going into his senior year. The high-major offers started to pour in for Simmons last year with the first coming from Frank Martin at Kansas State. He tendered another offer when he moved to South Carolina this off-season. VCU got in on Simmons’ recruitment last year and made him the top priority for 2013 at his position.
Simmons made an unofficial visit to VCU this past season for VCU’s 89-77 win over George Mason on February 25th. This happened to coincide with VCU star Bradford Burgess’ senior night in front of a sold-out house on ESPN2. While many high-major programs wooed Simmons over the course of his recruitment, Alabama and VCU rose to the top of his list with Miami and familiar face Jim Larranaga rounding out his top 3. He took an unofficial to visit the hometown ACC school on May 7th and took another unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s Team Camp from June 29th-30th. It was a back-and-forth recruitment between VCU and Alabama during the last couple of months with the Rams coming out on top for Simmons’ services in the end. His relationship with VCU’s coaching staff ended up being the deciding factor that put the Rams over the top.
Simmons is a traditional PF/C with a back-to-the-basket game, good hands, and solid post moves. He has a mid-range face-up jumper that he can knock down if given time and space, but is more effective with his post-up game at this point. He often finishes in the low post with a hook shot that has become his go-to move. He has good poise for a big man and lets the game come to him. He’s a good passer for his size and can run the floor and finish at the rim on the fast break. He should be able to work himself into the rotation at VCU under the tutelage of experienced big men Juvonte Reddic and DJ Haley who will be seniors when he suits up for the Rams.
Here’s an excerpt from high school talent scout Van Coleman’s article on Simmons in May:
“Antravious is a long and lean player with terrific offensive and defensive skills. He moves his feet well defending down low and he is quick to the ball when rebounding. He is a very good outlet passer and lane filler in transition.”
“He likes to score facing or with his back to the basket, but he prefers to finish at rim level off the break. This rim shaker is an ace shot-blocker and rebounder. He runs the court well and he likes to bang down low.”
Simmons averaged a hot 26.0 points and a smoking 15.0 rebounds per game this past season.
Going into the A-10, shoring up VCU’s front court depth had to be a concern for Shaka Smart and his staff. With bigger, more athletic bodies across the board in the A-10 compared to the Rams’ previous home in the Colonial Athletic Association, landing a quality big man was a priority. Adding a a highly-recruited back-to-the-basket big man like Simmons looks to be just what the doctor ordered for VCU.
Simmons caps off a strong 2013 class for VCU that includes the speedy back court tandem of 3-star PG JeQuan Lewis out of Dickson County, Tennessee and 3-star DeMatha guard Jairus Lyles.
Scout profile: http://scouthoops.scout.com/a.z?s=75&p=8&c=1&nid=5696858