After working out for Chicago and Phoenix, teenager Anfernee Simons said his performance Monday with the Trail Blazers was his best yet.
“I made shots, showed I could play the game, showed I could do the little things,’’ said Simons, who turns 19 on Friday.
Simons, a 6-foot-3, 183 pound guard who did not attend college, is among the more intriguing, yet risky, first-round prospects in the June 21 NBA Draft. Mock drafts have him going as early as 18, or somewhere near where the Blazers select at No. 24.
During a brief moment the media was allowed to watch Monday, Simons had a smooth shot that he hit with ease from deep. And at the NBA Combine last month in Chicago, he recorded a 41.5 inch max vertical leap, which tied for the third highest of all prospects measured behind Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (42) and Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie (42).
A condensed look at the Anfernee Simons workout at the @impactbball Pro Day this past week— SUVtv (@SUVtv) June 2, 2018
That 1st step, smooth handle & shooting touch were on display for all in attendance.
Full workout: https://t.co/UT81m643Yo@AnferneeSimons @HSBasketballBR @Coach_ABC #SUVtv #ABACE pic.twitter.com/QIawJQvmjZ
“I feel like I’m ready for the moment,’’ Simons said. “If all else fails, I know I can make shots.’’
He has a bright smile and an engaging personality, which has been shaped by involved parents and real-life lessons. Three of his former teammates in Florida have passed away recently, one after collapsing while playing pick-up basketball and two others who were shot.
“I’ve learned life is too short to take anything for granted,’’ Simons said.
That philosophy was part of his bypassing college (he committed to Louisville but pulled out after coach Rick Pitino was fired) and attending the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., while taking one college course.
“I felt like I needed to stay in the gym and workout to get better and get stronger,’’ he said.
Simons headlined the Blazers’ third day of workouts, which included six guards: Kentucky freshman Hamidou Diallo, Duke freshman Trevon Duval, SMU junior Shake Milton, Maryland-Baltimore County senior Jarius Lyles and Idaho senior and former Jefferson High standout Victor Sanders.
By the end of the workout, several Blazers watched from the sideline, including All-Star guard Damian Lillard.
If there is a noticeable difference between Simons and other NBA guards, it’s his size. He said he was 5-foot-9 as a high school freshman and 6-foot as a sophomore before sprouting to 6-3 his junior season. He noted he wants to put on more weight, which he expects will come with time.
“In my eyes, I feel like I can play right away. Obviously, I have to get stronger and stuff, but that can come in the season,’’ Simons said. “I feel like I can contribute right away by making shots and playing defense.’’
Simons said he has about six more teams to workout for, including the Lakers on Tuesday in Los Angeles.