Michigan basketball added a new player to its roster Monday night in former Ohio point guard Jaaron Simmons.
While at Ohio, playing for the Bobcats, Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 6.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 36 minutes per game the past two seasons.
A game-ready guard that fits right into Michigan’s roster, Simmons could be the perfect replacement for last year’s second-team All-Big Ten point guard Derrick Walton Jr., who graduated after the season.
The decision to choose Michigan
In selecting his next school, Simmons narrowed the choices to Dayton, Michigan and Ohio State. All three recruited him heavily, but the Dayton native decided to head north to Ann Arbor to play for the Wolverines.
“Ohio was always in play, too. Even when I got my release, there was always a chance of me going back there. I had to figure out the best situation for me for my last year, with the best opportunity to make the NCAA tournament and win at a high level,” Simmons told Land of 10. “Michigan called me the day I got my release. Then they came to my house for an in-home visit, and I visited for the spring game. Then, it happened, and I decided on them.
“The coaching staff, the tradition, the need they have for a point guard and being able to win. We can do some special things with this team with what’s already there.”
John Beilein’s message to Jaaron Simmons about his role at Michigan
A starting spot is never guaranteed, but Simmons is going to be the heavy favorite to start immediately at the point guard position over sophomore Xavier Simpson.
But what has the message to Simmons been on that topic from coach John Beilein and his staff?
“They just want me to come there and … be me. Play point guard the way I do, with a balanced attack,” he said. “That’s what they want me to do.”
With better weapons surrounding him in Ann Arbor, with names such as Duncan Robinson and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman – and possibly Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson – Simmons’ job gets much easier.
But possibly more complicated.
Is he going to stick to his nearly 16 points per game approach, taking games over, as he did in the MAC at Ohio? Or will he focus on dishing the ball out to the new weapons he’s been granted in Ann Arbor?
“I’m a balanced point guard. I don’t pick and choose when I score; I just go out there and try to make plays for me and others,” he said. “I’m just here to play my game and be the point guard I am.”
Michigan had a successful final leg of the season, winning the Big Ten tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament, and then to the Sweet 16.
Simmons paid attention to that run, seeing himself as a fit into the system, which led him to select the Wolverines.
“I watched them this year as they were recruiting me and watched some film,” he said. “I like the way they play. I like the ball screen stuff they got, the open floor stuff and just a lot of movement. I feel like I can be successful in that system.”
What John Beilein did to land Jaaron Simmons
At the end of the day, a player weighs a lot of his decision to commit to a school on one thing – the head coach.
And Beilein did exactly what he needed to do to land Simmons. Known for his unique style of recruiting, such as not offering prospects until they visit, Beilein went all out to make sure Simmons was a Wolverine.
“He’s a good, honest, dude … he was straight up,” he said. “He recruited me. He was the one texting and visiting me. My parents liked him for how honest he was with us.”
An ode to Trey Burke?
The last Ohio point guard to start for Michigan was All-American Trey Burke, who led the Wolverines to the National Championship Game in 2013.
“I used to watch Trey all the time. We played in the same AAU program, too,” Simmons said. “He did some great things [at Michigan]. But I’m just going to go there and be me – be the best player I can be.”
What Jaaron Simmons wants Michigan fans to know about him
And what’s the one thing that Simmons wants Michigan fans to know about him prior to his arrival?
It’s simple: He’s here to make an impact.
“I’m just somebody that’s trying to come in to contribute,” he said. “And help lead us to some special things.”
It wouldn’t be an interview with an Ohio player heading to Michigan without asking about the Buckeyes, right?
So what exactly is Simmons’ outlook on that team he’s now going to be bred to hate?
“I don’t have anything against Ohio State,” he said. “But that’s a rivalry now. We have to win.”