Michigan didn’t take too long to find their replacement to Derrick Walton Jr.
Star Ohio point guard Jaaron Simmons will be transferring to Michigan next season, first reported by Jason Arkley of the Athens Messenger. This comes to many of us in Athens as a shock, because most people on campus expected him to return to OU for his senior season or head to the draft after he declared on March 27.
Simmons didn’t hire an agent — as many collegiate athletes are now taking advantage of being able to do that — but it’s clear he heard some sort of feedback that pushed him to transfer to a Power Five school.
“It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Simmons told Arkley. “We have a great relationship. Nothing negative happened, there was nothing bad about it. I’m just trying to do what I think is the best for me as an individual.”
One cannot be upset with Simmons, who is coming off averaging 15.9 points and 6.5 assists per game, both team bests that helped him get named First Team All-Mid-American Conference. Simmons showed that he had the capabilities of being the leader of a team after star forward Antonio Campbell was lost for the season in the beginning of MAC play.
Simmons will finish his collegiate career as a Wolverine, so with that in mind, how his decision affects both teams:
What this means for Michigan:
Michigan has their floor general for next season as this stiffens the blow of them losing their top two players in Walton Jr. and Zac Ervin.
Simmons gives them leadership with big play moments — most notably a career-high 38-point performance against MAC rival Akron.
The Wolverines are still waiting to hear if D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner will return next year. Both saw their stock rise substantially after their Sweet 16 run in this years past NCAA tournament.
If Wilson and Wagner return to team up with Simmons, this team would have a solid core group of guys to count on early in the season and will be in contention in what was considered a down year for the Big Ten.
What this means for Ohio:
Absolute sheer heartbreak.
As a fan of the school, it sucks to see your best player leave your school. This team was so fun to watch a year ago as they got better as the season progressed.
From a basketball perspective, this team would have been the odds-on favorite to win the MAC next year with Simmons running the show.
The scene was set. Akron, the regular season winner of the MAC, will lose their top two players — senior forwards Kwan Cheatham Jr. and Isaiah Johnson. OU had a clear ride to the top of the MAC East.
But now Simmons joins three other OU teammates who will no longer be suiting up in the green and white next year.
So now what?
First, the Bobcats must pray for a miracle that Campbell gets granted a medical redshirt, which is already a long shot.
So plan B is the rise of two men: Sophomore Jordan Dartis and freshman Jason Carter.
Dartis, the team’s best sharp-shooting guard, is coming off of averaging 12.6 points-per-game. As of now, he will most likely be relied on heavily early in non-conference play to assume point guard duties.
But Dartis can’t do it by himself, he’ll need a lot of help too and it all starts with Carter.
Many people counted out the Bobcats when Campbell was lost for the remainder of the season. Little did we know that Campbell’s injury would open the gate for Carter to rise to stardom.
In Campbell’s absence, Carter was inserted into the starting lineup for the final 26 games and he took the opportunity and ran with it.
Carter averaged 13.8 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. Over that span, Carter had five double-doubles, something we will grow more accustom to next year.
This will be a team that many teams in the MAC will not recognize at first and a team that will take many people in Athens time to get used to as well.
But who knows, we doubted this team when Campbell went down, maybe they’ll prove us wrong again.