In the following weeks, The Post will analyze each member of Ohio men’s basketball roster and their potential impact in 2016-17.
This week, The Post will look at guard Jaaron Simmons.
Simmons' cuts off screens, pick-and-rolls and low-center of gravity with the ball kept the Bobcats competitive last season and often frustrated Mid-American Conference foes. Ohio coach Saul Phillips said to expect more of the same from the low-maintenance guard in November.
Simmons is the glue that holds Ohio together. He led the team in assists and minutes played last year, and he was an essential factor in the Bobcats’ turnaround season.
Bluntly: Ohio becomes mediocre on both sides of the ball when Simmons is on the bench. For example, last year against Central Michigan, Ohio only scored six points in the seven minutes Simmons was resting.
“Jaaron is a leader in every sense of the word," Phillips said. "He’s exactly what you’re looking for in a coach. He can speak three words and have eight times the influence as anybody else in this program, including myself,” Phillips said.
Simmons also improved his jump shot — a sneakily efficient part of his arsenal some forget about — this summer, Phillips said.
Simmons' drives from the top of the key and finishes around the rim helped the Bobcats spacing and shooting from the corners last year. Now, with an improved shot, and Jordan Dartis beefing up in the summer, Simmons taking spot-up jumpers could add another layer to an already dangerous offensive squad.
What can Simmons improve on? Not much. He’s already considered one of the premier guards in the MAC — he earned Second Team All-MAC honors last season.
Simmons played 1,276 minutes last season, 200 more than the next player, but he looked exhausted during conference play. To rest Simmons, expect to see sophomore guards Dartis and Gavin Block take over ball handling duties during some nonconference match ups.