A quick reminder: today is the last day to purchase tickets for next week's Pacers-Celtics game at the group rate. If you're interested, all the info is here. If you're interested in playing in the pickup game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse next Saturday from 12:30-2:30 e-mail me. I have 11 people confirmed, so if a few more people want to play you're welcome.
Next up in the recruiting profile countdown is Jay Simpson, a player that comes in wildly ranked across the board. Rivals has the 6'9" 250 pound recruit as a three star and just outside the top 100 at No. 101, making him the second lowest rated recruit coming in next season, five spots ahead of Rapheal Davis. Scout thinks a lot more highly of Simpson, rating him as a 4-star, while ESPN has him outside the top 100 nationally and as a three star.
Whatever his ranking is, Simpson comes in at a position of need, making him a big body we can put on the low block. Successful big men in college are made more successful when they can play with other successful big men. I have said all year that Jared Sullinger has actually been less effective at times this year because he didn't have Dallas Lauderdale protecting the other side of the rim. At LaLumiere, Simpson has had the advantage of having multiple players on the other side of the rim to help him out. Hanner Perea will unfortunately be heading to Indiana to fill that role for Cody Zeller, while Obij Aget will be going to New Mexico.
Simpson won't come in and be expected to be an instant impact post-player, which should greatly help his development. I have only seen him play once in person, and it was the same LaLumiere-Trader's Point game I talked about yesterday:
Simpson had a relatively quite night with two points on one of six shooting and two rebounds. That kind of bothers me. I can live with the lack of offense because they didn't look for him. In fact, his one basket was a nice back to the basket classic big man's drop step, something that we severely lack this year.
He didn't get his first rebound until there were five minutes left, however. He was doing some decent grunt work defensively. Olah finished with 14 and 8 against a mix of Perea, Simpson, Wilkins, and Aget. Kostic was relatively quiet as well.
What's troubling is that Perea and Simpson will play similar positions in college, but Perea is light years more athletic. In fact, I would describe Perea as an athletic freak. He had eight points and 12 rebounds mostly on his freakish athleticism. His arms are each about 14 feet long and he has such vertical that a 10 foot rim is practically an insult to him. Perea still lacks polish, but as John and I discussed, even if he plays the Dallas Lauderdale Memorial Set Picks, Rebound, And Dunk role for four years he'll be a force.
It was troubling that Simpson was quiet. He's a good player, but not the sheer athletic specimen hat Perea is. It may have just been an off night for him too. With us he'll be asked to play a different role because he was primarily a center instead of a forward like he'll be in college. I think he can pair well with Hammons on the low block, but I want to see him rebound better and assert himself. There is still time for him though.
I was relieved to see during LaLumiere's ESPNU game yesterday that Simpson was a much bigger force on the floor. He finished with eight points and six rebounds, but, and I cannot stress this enough, HE DISPLAYED BACK-TO-THE-BASKET POST MOVES!!!!!
<Hold for applause, hosannahs, and general thanks to your deity of choice>
Honestly, given the dearth of a post presence this season, the fact Simpson can be fed the ball on the low block and score with regularity is reason enough for a parade. We haven't had a guy like that at Purdue in years, probably since Carl Landry. Yes, JaJuan Johnson could often score down there, but more often than not he used his excellent rotate-and-fade shot rather than going up strong.
Simpson can get the ball and drop step his man to the basket while going up strong. At 6'9" 250 pounds he's got the size that JJ did not have as a freshman to take the ball up strong. Also, he's got a wealth of depth around him. We can now actually go big with two, TWO! low block forwards that will go up.
As previously mentioned, I envision Sandi Marcius and A.J. Hammons taking the minutes at the five, while Simpson, Jacob Lawson, and Travis Carroll play at the four. This is excellent for a number of reasons:
- D.J. Byrd can now shift to his natural position of the three, where he can have a matchup advantage.
- Donnie Hale and his size might be even better utilized at the three, where he is also more of a shooter.
- Carroll and Lawson are not fives, but Carroll's 15 footer and Lawson's athleticism make them pretty good fours.
- Simpson and Lawson can concentrate on the critical elements of using their athleticism for rebounds, something we desperately need.
- Did I mention that we NOW HAVE DEPTH IN THE POST!!!!
The days of chucking it into the Chooch because he is our biggest player, but we pray he doesn't turn it over because of a double team, are over. If they double team Simpson he can get the ball to Hammons because he is used to playing with other effective bigs like Perea and Ajet.
One concern I have is Simpson's ability to kick the ball out to open shooters. Calling LaLumiere's outside shooting bad yesterday would imply they had an outside shooting game. The only threat from the perimeter was Davis driving. LaLumiere had a lot of size, but their guard play was awful outside of Davis.
The good news is that Davis and Simpson get to come in having already played together for a year. Remember when I mentioned that familiarity that Terone Johnson and his brother Ronnie have. We see something similar here, though they have one year as opposed to most of their freaking lives for TJ and RJ.
I didn't like that Simpson stepped out and shot a few threes yesterday, but this could be effective on a limited basis. He has a nice form on his jumper, and if he can hit that shot with some regularity it will be there. Think of it as a Nemanja Calasan-type of shot. Chally often got the green light for two threes per game. If he hit them, great! If not, he was told to stop at two. All it takes is a handful of makes for people to start respecting Simpson out there, thus opening up things elsewhere.
I don't expect Simpson to come in instantly and average 15 and 10 with ease, though if he wants to I won't object. I do expect him to be one of the more polished bigs in his first season for us. I think he is above where JJ was as a freshman, but is his ceiling as high? That will rely on his work ethic. I will be very pleased if Simpson comes in and just attacks the glass with gusto. We need rebounders, and now we have the size to greatly improve a major deficiency in our game. Rebounding is all about effort, however, as John Allison will attest. Jay can have a major impact by simply coming in, grabbing a few offensive rebounds per game, and changing the flow with a garbage basket or two.
If Simpson can enter and be player we look for regularly on offense, even better. Lawson was good when we ran a screen and roll for him, as he had a couple of nice dunks that way. Simpson can do this, perhaps even more effectively. If he really is 250 pounds he has a bigger body than Lawson and freshman JJ.
Finally, there is his defensive game, which is summed up best in a wrap from yesterday's loss:
Defensively, Simpson has to learn to guard without fouling. The referees weren't even calling it today, but Matt Painter will have to teach him to play defense with his feet, not his hands. In particular, he was called for a shooting foul at the end of the 1st quarter that resulted in two extra free throws for Montverde.
This could keep jay off the floor. If you don't play defense at Purdue you simply don't play. Fortunately, I trust the coaching staff to teach this. We're getting a player that definitely wants to work on his ability, otherwise he wouldn't have gone to LaLumiere this year. That hard work will pay off.