Jaaron Simmons never envisioned himself being a Michigan Man. That changed when he joined the University of Michigan men’s basketball program as a graduate student for his senior season.
That brief but notable Wolverines career was extended this week when Simmons learned he had been added to the Michigan coaching staff as a graduate manager. It’ll be the first coaching position for the all-time Alter High School boys basketball scorer.
“It was an opportunity,” Simmons said. “I love the game of basketball and it was about being happy for me and being in a place where I feel comfortable.”
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Simmons will be part of a major restructuring of Wolverines men’s basketball. He was a backup point guard for Lima Senior High School product Zavier Simpson at Michigan for the 2017-18 season after graduating as a record-setter at Ohio University. Michigan lost to Villanova that season in the NCAA national championship.
Since then, Michigan coach John Beilein landed the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach position. He was succeeded at Michigan by famed Wolverines Fab Five member Juwan Howard.
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Simmons inquired about the graduate manager position but was put on hold as the change in Michigan coaching staffs played out. Howard welcomed him back to Ann Arbor.
“It’s huge,” said Simmons, who played professionally at Switzerland last spring. “Coach Beilein left a tremendous mark on this program and I was able to be a part of that with a Final Four run. Me and Coach B had a great relationship and now with Coach Howard, being a Fab Five member, somebody who has so much history with the University of Michigan, being able to be under his wing is an amazing opportunity.”
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Simmons will take on a major behind-the-scenes role, “analyzing film, providing analytics to prepare scouting reports and assist in game planning, helping with on-campus recruiting events and co-supervising the student managerial program,” according to a UM job description.
Simmons averaged 1.5 points in 33 games during his lone UM season and scored nine points in six tournament games. He was a two-season, record-setting guard at Ohio University from 2015-17. He began his collegiate playing career at Houston his freshman season, then transferred to OU.
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Simmons set OU and Mid-American Conference assist records in his two seasons with the Bobcats. His average of 7.9 assists in the 2016-17 season ranked third in the nation among NCAA D-I players.
Simmons, 6 feet 1, 185 pounds, played with Union Neuchatel in Switzerland, averaging 8.5 points in 13 games. He’s unsure about his playing future, other than he’s looking forward to practice reps against Wolverines players this coming season.
“I play all the time,” he said. “I work out and keep in shape. I know I’ll be playing a lot with the guys.”
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Simmons has an undergrad degree in specialized studies with a concentration in management. He’s pursuing a master’s degree in social work, following the lead of his mother and grandmother “who have been in that for 30 years,” he said.
He was the go-to standout as a senior at Alter in the 2012-13 season, leading the Knights to the last of their nine state final four appearances. Joe Petrocelli retired as Alter’s distinguished coach following that season.
“I definitely strive for greatness,” said Simmons, in his trademark deep baritone voice. “I want to be the best person I can be, whether that’s on the floor or wherever that may be.”
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