Simms Taking Her Game to the Next Level
Harry Howard Jr. | Sports Editor
Lady Monarch guard Jennie Simms was selected as the No. 18 pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true. They talked to me and told me they were interested, but the way the draft was going, I wasn’t sure how anything would go. I really look forward to working hard to compete and listening to them to see what they have in store for me,” Simms said to the Daily Press after the draft.
Standing at 6 feet tall, she’s able to do it all on the court. Despite a rocky start to her college career at West Virginia, Simms found her way to Norfolk where she flourished as a Lady Monarch. During her freshman year as a Mountaineer, she played in eight games scoring only 25 points, which is ironic because it matches her ODU jersey number that may one day hang in the rafters at The Ted. When Lady Monarch head coach Karen Barefoot heard about Jennie’s decision to transfer, she did everything possible to get her.
Barefoot first spotted Simms on the AAU Circuit playing for Boo Williams. Barefoot’s connection with Williams has kept her close to his teams and was the key to her finding Simms. Although she had already committed to West Virginia, Barefoot kept tabs on Simms’ career because she knew she was different and would be something special one day.
“The first time I ever saw her play my jaw dropped and the connection was Boo Williams. I saw her and was like wow. I noticed in between breaks she always would pick up the ball while everyone was relaxing during halftime or getting water she’d be out there getting extra shots up,” Barefoot said.
Simms still has that very same work ethic and had to be sent home from the gym multiple times by Barefoot so she’d rest. Although the Lady Monarchs weren’t able to win the ring that Simms wanted, she was able to bring the program back to the spotlight.
“So many people were going wow, wow Jennie Simms. She got invited to the combine and made the Top 20 All-Star game. Recruiting has gone up. The phones blowing up. People are calling fans, alums, recruits you name it,” Barefoot said about Simms’ impact on the program.
This past season she showcased her talents and shattered school records. Simms averaged a school record of 26 points per game and was one of only two players in the NCAA to average 20 plus points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Putting up these kinds of numbers helped her capture the 2016-17 C-USA Player of the Year Award as well as Honorable Mention AP All-American.
Simms’ versatility was something WNBA teams noticed. Her all-around game allows her to play multiple positions. She’s big enough to play in the post and has the ball-handling skills of the point guard. These abilities along with her drive to be great will help her thrive with the Mystics.
“She’s 6 foot, can shoot the three, rebounds well, and gets to the rim,” Barefoot said.