The Arizona Wildcats’ freshman guard was one of two Wildcats to go undrafted Thursday, with Chance Comanche being the other.
They, along with Brandon Ashley, are the only Arizona players ever to leave college early and not get selected in the NBA Draft.
“I think he made a mistake coming out,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said of Simmons after the draft.
Regardless, Simmons will have a shot to make the Grizzlies’ roster and will likely play on their Summer League team in early July, with hopes of earning a training camp invite.
The 6-foot-5 guard has considerable strides to make to be an NBA-caliber player, especially on defense, but Draft Express called Simmons a “sleeper prospect” because of his ability to score at a high volume in short spurts.
Simmons got off to a scintillating start at Arizona, but his playing time waned significantly after Allonzo Trier returned from a 19-game suspension. He played fewer than 10 minutes in six of Arizona’s last seven games.
The Atlanta native wound up averaging 8.7 points in 23.5 minutes per game with an uninspiring 39.5 shooting percentage.
Simmons’ decision to declare for the NBA Draft and forgo his final three years of eligibility was unsurprising to head coach Sean Miller, however.
“Kobi and his family are very transparent and I think they wanted to get it (his professional career) started,” Miller said. “He’s one of the most athletically talented, gifted kids we’ve had. If you look at where he is now physically, it’s scary to think where he’ll be three or four years from now.
“He’s continuing to make that transition from high school point guard to pro point guard. So there’s a development process he’s going to go through whether he was here or whether he’s in the NBA game or wherever he’s at.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire