Former Southwest star Simmons hoping ‘to bounce back’ next season
By Greg Bates
After a successful first season on the college basketball court, Jaddan Simmons was hoping to up her game the following year.
However, the Arizona State point guard didn’t live up to her expectations for herself.
The Green Bay Southwest product is now turning her attention to the future to become what she describes as a better-rounded player.
“Not how I wanted it to go, but I still have three more years to get better – that’s the focus right now,” Simmons, who graduated from high school in 2020, said.
Starting all 26 of the Sun Devils’ games this past season, Simmons averaged 9.6 points (third-best on the team), 3.4 rebounds (fifth), 2.8 assists (first) and 1.7 steals (second) per game.
As a competitor, Simmons said it pushes her knowing she didn’t reach her potential last season.
“It changes your mindset a little bit and humbles you,” she said. “It makes you want to work harder and get better for yourself and the team.”
There has been a lot of turnover in the Arizona State program since the season ended in March.
The Sun Devils, members of the Pac-12 Conference, finished a disappointing 12-14 overall and 4-9 in league play.
Head coach Charli Turner Thorne retired after 25 seasons.
With that move, some players decided to transfer out of the program.
Combined with graduation, the majority of the players have to be replaced, including the team’s top two scorers.
“It opens up the door of being a leader and stepping up my game because we lost a lot of our scoring,” Simmons said. “I’m going to need to fill those needs — scoring, rebounding.”
Simmons also had some personal things going on outside of basketball, which she said played a part in her not having the best year on the court.
“The physical part wasn’t the main thing – just had some stuff going on (mentally), so I tried to adapt that with the basketball part,” Simmons said. “It wasn’t the best, but this year, I have a different mindset going in.”
After new head coach Natasha Adair and her coaching staff were hired, Simmons got to sit down and chat with them.
She said she’s enthusiastic about the future of the program and how Adair wants to utilize her game.
“They want me to be a scorer and a great teammate and defender,” Simmons said. “They want me to be that leader now that everyone has gone their ways a little bit.”
Three years remaining
As a freshman, Simmons stepped in and was second on the Sun Devils in scoring (10.8 points per game) and dished out 2.7 assists a night.
In her second season, Simmons’ role changed slightly with new personnel on the court, but she said she doesn’t feel her teammates put pressure on her to produce more after her stellar freshman campaign.
“This year didn’t go as planned, but I don’t think I put too much pressure on myself,” Simmons said. “My teammates aren’t worried about how many points they score – it’s how everyone can contribute to the team in different ways. Last year, scoring wasn’t it, so I had to find different ways to be that player they needed.”
Heading into next season, Simmons said she expects herself to lead the Sun Devils in assists and steals.
She said scoring will come if she can stuff the stat sheet in the other categories.
“This offseason, I have a different mindset,” Simmons said. “I’m going to try and be the best version of myself I can, both mentally and physically. This offseason is important in getting better.”
Because of COVID-19, the NCAA passed a rule allowing student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, so even though Simmons has logged two years on the court, she’s eligible to play for three more seasons.
She said she’s planning on taking advantage of that additional year.
A sports business major, Simmons has her sights set on earning her undergraduate degree and then getting her master’s degree, all the while playing at Arizona State.
Simmons’ said her top professional goal is to play in the WNBA, and if that happens, she can jump into her career after basketball.
“I want to keep doing something with sports, whether it’s behind the scenes like marketing or helping a team out, it doesn’t matter what it is,” she said. “I first want to go to the league.”
Simmons said she believes if she plays to her potential, the WNBA is a realistic landing spot.
“I believe in myself to do that,” she said. “It’s going to take a lot more hard work – easier said than done. That’s always been my dream since I started playing basketball. I’m going to do my best to get there.”
Former Southwest and Marquette star Natisha Hiedeman is in her fourth season in the WNBA with the Connecticut Sun, and the two connect every so often via text.
Simmons said Hiedeman always has sound advice.
“It’s a great thing because we both lived in Green Bay — not many people in the league are from there,” she said. “It’s nice having someone you can look up to, see they came from where you came from and how it all started. I want to try and follow in those footsteps and get to where she is.”