Simonds has been through a lot of stress since he was playing high school ball at Buford and at Gainesville.
“It’s just been a long hectic process ever since I was little, moving schools and all that type of stuff,” Simonds said about his difficulties in life. “Throughout high school I had a lot of adversity on me, just constant people putting things out on me that aren’t true.
“But coach Claude Pardue and coach Ron Hunter had a lot of faith me and a lot of faith in the person I truly am and not the person I was perceived to be. But perception is reality towards a lot of people, but I’m just really thankful for the opportunity they gave me.”
Not only has he overcome adversity off the court, but on the court Simonds has showed people that he is the opposite of the shooting guard stereotype.
“Chemistry is the biggest thing in basketball,” Simonds said. “You can have five pros on the floor and 10 pros on your team, and it won’t matter if y’all don’t want to play together. You can always tell when a team has chemistry because the ball swings, and they’re always happy for each other. They’re just happy to do the little things for each other, like little rotations on defense like, ‘oh I’ll get there for you, you get mine now.’ Keep faith in your teammates and you always want to do something for them. Be your brother’s keeper.”
Chemistry is so important to Simonds, that his role model in basketball is his own teammate.
“It sounds crazy, but since I was a freshman I’ve always looked up to Isaiah Williams. Just the way he played, he always plays with a lot of heart. He’s always running down the court faster than everybody, and plays hard on defense to get the steals. He really just kind of taught me how to play.”
Simonds understands that team chemistry and playing for each other is the key to success. Georgia State went 1-3 when Simonds and a couple of other guards went down with injuries. The chemistry just wasn’t working with players missing. However, since Simonds and the gang’s health improved, the Panthers have won eight consecutive Sun Belt Conference games.
Entering Saturday’s home game against Louisiana-Lafayette at 2:15 p.m., Simonds ranks second on the team in scoring this season with 12.7 points per game, but in the past five games he has averaged 20.2 points per game. He earned his first Sun Belt Player of the Week Honors on Jan. 31.
Although he’s a great scorer, that is not all Simonds is good for. Simonds is one of the defensive leaders on the team, guarding some of the best scorers on opposing teams, and ranks first on the team in steals with 30.
“Honestly it’s just all about positioning yourself,” Simonds said of his defensive play. “There’s only so many things a guy can do with the ball, and I feel like defense really just wins the game. So, I just kind of give my all on the defensive end, and everything will be easier on offense. If you get a steal you can just run down the court no contest layup.”
Simonds is a terrific player, but he continually tries to improve himself.
“Every single part of my game has something to work on,” Simonds said. “There’s no part of anyone’s game that’s going to be perfect. I just feel like every single aspect I can work on and get better. I’m just trying to make sure everyone see’ s the best me on every single night.”
Off the court, Simonds is just a man that cares about his family and friends.
“It’s close to home, and my mother is actually from Atlanta; my whole family is here,” Simonds said on why he chose Georgia State. “My parents have always come to every single game ever. What if I just went out of state somewhere far and they were watching me on TV, they would throw a fit. Then Williams is one of my best friends. Me and him have been friends since I was 14 years old, so it was just a great fit.”
The Panthers are in a three-way tie for first in the Sun Belt Conference with a 9-2 conference record. Simonds has great expectations for his team in the future.
“I’m trying to go to the tournament and win some games,” Simonds said about his goal this season. “I think we have the team to do that, and we can really make some noise.”
Next time you think of Simonds, remember him as a team player and not just your average shooting guard.