NEW BRITAIN - For four years, Jared Simmons both wowed spectators and frustrated opponents on the court for the Newington boys basketball team.
Now, the guard is set to further his career a little over 540 miles from where he became a three-time all-state player, at Spire Academy in Ohio, for a prep year, allowing him to reclassify for the class of 2018.
“When I went there for my visit, the facility was beautiful,” Simmons said. “They have the best coaching staff to help me get to college. They’re full of positivity. They recently joined the Power 5 Conference, so I’ll be playing against the best in the country at this level.”
Simmons leaves the Indians as one of, if not the most decorated players in program history. Along with those all-state selections, Simmons finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,816 points, the most 3-pointers made and most assists in a season (he has two of the top three spots in both) and owns three out of Newington’s top five scoring seasons.
And his high school coach Scot Wenzel believes Simmons has the versatility and skill set to be just as effective at his next stop.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Wenzel said. “Jared’s ceiling is high. He’ll be around Division I athletes. He had a number of schools looking at him as a run-and-gun at the No. 2 position because of his shooting. But what he can do at the point guard position is a game changer. He was one of the best point guards around. He’s so versatile. Whether it is at shooting guard or at the point, they’re getting a great player because he’s so dynamic.”
Although he played point throughout his time with the Indians, Simmons said he will spend a little bit of time at both guard positions this upcoming winter.
“I think they’re getting a really good facilitator,” Simmons said of the type of player Spire was getting. “I can score different ways, but I love to get my teammates involved. I think I’ll adjust well. In AAU, we play on the Under Armour circuit against some of the best players.”
Simmons had a number of colleges looking at him throughout his final season at Newington, but sees the opportunity at Spire a way to improve his on-court ability and his work in the classroom. Working on his ball-handling and defense is among his top priorities on the basketball court.
“It gives me an extra year of development as far as basketball goes,” Simmons said. “They’re going to have me on a weight-training program. I’m looking to put on about 15-to-20 pounds. Going there, it’ll benefit me the most. They also worry about academics a lot.”
Spire recruited the guard heavily from his junior season, where he led the Indians to a berth in the Class L Final Four, through his senior year. Coaches visited him at practice, watched his games at Newington with the Indians sending the school Simmons’ game tape. Overall, he was one of Spire’s top recruits for the upcoming season and Simmons received a full scholarship as a result.
“This is a very good prep school,” Wenzel said. “He’ll be around a number of Division I athletes. This give him the opportunity to get physically stronger and academically stronger. There won’t be any distractions out there. It’s all going to be about basketball and academics.”
Now, as Simmons gets ready to begin the next chapter of his basketball career, he is just ready to get started for the new challenge that awaits.
“I’m really excited,” Simmons said. “I’m excited about traveling to different states to play other teams, playing against some of the top recruits in the country, and hopefully learn some of the things they know. I’m ready to get out of Connecticut and see what it’s like.”
And that could certainly pose a problem for opposing players not only next season, but in future years as well.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach