It’s getting crowded in Arizona State’s back court. But that may be a good thing.
The women’s basketball team just added another guard to round out the 2010 roster. And this time, they went half way around the world to find Olivia Simmons, a 6-foot guard from “down under.” Simmons, from Box Hill Senior Secondary College, a 750-student school in Melbourne that only includes grades 10-12, committed to sign with the Devils after visiting the Tempe campus last week.
Now, Coach Charli Turner Thorne has to find a way to get her playing time.
Simmons, who has begun acclimating to the American game by playing club ball in California, is one of three incoming perimeter players that include Adrianne Thomas from Fontana, Calif., and Olivia Major, a transfer from Central Arizona College in Coolidge.
With the addition of Major, who averaged 20 points a game for CAC, the Sun Devils can actually put a national championship back court on the floor next season. Two of Major’s teammates at CAC, Tenaya Watson and Markisha Patterson, arrived in Tempe ahead of her. Both were on last season’s roster, but Patterson had to redshirt because of an injury.
But now, the back court trio that carried CAC to the 2009 NJCAA D-I national championship, will be together again.
And then there’s Dymond Simon, the All Pac-10 guard who was the Devils’ leading scorer before injuring her knee in the final game of the 2008/09 season and being forced to watch from the bench this year. She is expected to begin practicing with the team this summer.
The 5’9″ Thomas is one of the top guards in the country. She was the Sunkist League MVP three times while playing for Summit High School and would also bring a scoring dimension to the squad. She is an explosive combo guard who scored in double figures 32 times over the last two seasons.
That gives Turner Thorne more than enough guards capable of playing a starting role as the season progresses, if not right out of the blocks.
At 6-foot, Simmons brings a little size to the back court, which could be helpful since the other guards top out at 5’9″. But her most significant contribution may be one of those intangibles that every team needs. She’s said to be a natural leader, one of those players who can function as another coach on the floor.
But Charli isn’t looking for another coach. She needs players who will fit into her up-tempo offense and aggressive pressure defense.
After this year’s disappointing second-round exit from the WNIT, she needs help getting the Devils back to the Big Dance next season.
Too bad she can only play three guards at a time.
(Photo: ASU Athletics/Tom Story)