It’s almost a rarity to see Kobi Simmons on the court these days.
Once a stalwart in the Arizona Wildcats’ rotation, the freshman’s playing time has dwindled significantly in recent weeks.
Simmons was regularly playing over 30 minutes per game earlier in the season, but has not played more than six minutes in the last four games, essentially taking him out of the Wildcats’ rotation during the final stretch of the season.
His lack of playing time can mostly be explained in two ways. First, the return of Allonzo Trier meant an inevitable alteration in minutes (and not just for Simmons, but for everyone on the roster).
Secondly, Simmons’ production has sharply dipped (some of which may have to do with Trier’s return as well).
Since Feb. 18, Simmons is 5 for 29 from the field, reaching double figures in the scoring column just once in the last nine games.
In three of the last four games, Simmons has failed to score a single point. Not to mention that, statistically, Arizona’s defense is at its worst when Simmons is on the court, as teams are scoring 102.9 points per 100 possessions.
Still, despite his recent struggles and lack of playing time, Sean Miller has been impressed with Simmons’ approach to the game.
“Kobi has probably sacrificed more than anybody but his attitude has been incredible,” Miller said. “Above and beyond what you could expect from somebody that’s as young as he is.”
Or as talented. Simmons was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and a McDonald’s All-American.
“Kobi is one of the more talented kids that we’ve had and his future is incredibly bright. Right now, I think he’s focused on winning,” Miller said.
“You get that feeling of winning a championship and you want more of that. We don’t have six months left together. We have one week, one game. We could have two weeks, three weeks, but now this is truly March Madness so I think all of our guys, Kobi included … they’re focused on our team and trying to get as far as we can and he’s handled his situation incredibly well.”
Simmons said after a scoreless game against UCLA that he doesn’t feel like he’s in a slump and will “be ready” if given a heavier workload.
It remains to be seen if he’ll get that chance, but that’s not necessarily what’s most important to him as the NCAA Tournament approaches anyway.
“Team player,” Simmons tweeted. “Just want to win.”
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