Kobi Simmons’ time with the Arizona Wildcats didn’t end on a high note, but make no mistake about it: he still loves the University of Arizona.
One of our Twitter followers thought that was “surprising” since there’s a notion that Simmons and UA head coach Sean Miller did not part on the best terms.
Maybe that’s true, but Simmons responded, “Whether or not we did, that doesn’t matter. ... I still went to Arizona and loved the school. Bear Down forever!”
If you are unfamiliar with the backstory, here it is.
Simmons was a one-and-done with Arizona in 2016-17. The former five-star recruit’s career got off to a fantastic start, as he was a double-digit scorer from day one — he dropped 18 points in a season-opening win against Michigan State — and helped the Wildcats stay afloat early in the season when Allonzo Trier (suspension), Ray Smith (injury), and Parker Jackson-Cartwright (injury) were all sidelined.
Simmons was playing a lot — often more than 30 or more minutes per game — and in 19 games without Trier, he scored in double figures 14 times. Other than Lauri Markkanen, Simmons was Arizona’s best scorer, displaying a smooth, albeit streaky, jumper and wicked athleticism that made him a potent slasher.
But Trier returned from his suspension in January and Simmons’ playing time gradually dwindled from there. By the end of the season, he was hardly even in the rotation.
In his last seven games at Arizona, Simmons played double-digit minutes once. He played just six minutes in Arizona’s Round of 32 win over Saint Mary’s and five minutes in the Sweet 16 loss to Xavier.
When all was said and done, Simmons averaged 8.7 points per game on 40 percent shooting and was projected to go undrafted. Some were surprised when he declared for the NBA Draft anyway, but the writing was on the wall by then.
Miller never said much about Simmons’ decision to leave — there was no press conference announcing his departure like the one Markkanen had — but he did acknowledge that Simmons and his family had been clear about his intentions of being a one-and-done.
So did Miller and Simmons actually part on bad terms? Or is that just an outside-driven narrative? Both seem possible, but as Simmons said, it doesn’t matter. He’s still proud to be a Wildcat.