After being hired at Pitt in the spring, Kevin Stallings immediately identified the Washington, D.C. area and the state of Virginia as prime recruiting territory.
Stallings was able to retain Jamie Dixon recruits Justice Kithcart and Corey Manigault from the area, and gave an offer to Manigault’s teammate — Aaron Thompson — in his first week on the job. Stallings then went out and hired assistant Kevin Sutton to round out his coaching staff. Sutton’s 29 years of coaching experience has taken him to Georgetown, George Washington, James Madison and Old Dominion and has long and deep ties to the region.
As soon as Sutton came on board, one of his first calls went to power forward prospect Aamir Simms, who is entering his senior year at Blue Ridge School in Central Virginia.
“As soon as Coach Sutton transferred, that’s when I started my relationship with Pitt,” Simms said to Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I knew Coach Stallings when he was at Vanderbilt. As soon as they both came to Pitt, they were both on me from the beginning.”
There are plenty of reasons for Pitt to like Simms. Rated as a four-star talent by 247 and Rivals, Simms could fill a huge need at forward, where Pitt will graduate Jamel Artis, Sheldon Jeter and Michael Young after the 2016-17 season.
Simms said that although he’s listed by most publications as 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, he is now 6-foot-8 1/2 and up to 250. He sees himself as a stretch four-type player at the collegiate level and he’s been working this summer on his outside shooting and his ball handling skills to that end.
“Some games, I’ll probably be put out more towards the perimeter, some games, I’ll have my back to the basket,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter. I’m just ready to get to college and get to work.”
He doesn’t yet have a top choice or even a narrowed-down group, but he says that when he does take that step, “Pitt would definitely be in that list.” The thing that has most impressed Simms is the energy and availability of Kevin Stallings. Some head coaches function just as a “closer” in recruiting, while letting the assistants to most of the build up. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Simms, who said he already feels like he has a good relationship with Stallings.
“Having a relationship with the head coach is more important than having your best relationship with an assistant, because you’re coming to play under the head coach, not the assistant coach, so when a head coach calls you, it sticks out more,” Simms said. “He’ll call me sometimes or Coach Sutton will call and he’ll put Coach Stallings on the phone just to talk to me. He was in the middle of a camp and he called. That really stood out to me that he was in the middle of his camp and took time out to talk to me.”
What Stallings has been saying is that he really likes the versatility the athletic Simms can provide on both sides of the ball.
“He likes my versatility and how well I can play in the post and defend against bigger post players,” Simms recalled. “For my size, I’m a really good defender in the post.”
Simms is planning on visiting Pitt in August. He’s taking a few other unofficial and official visits that month and feels that he’ll be in a better position to evaluate his options after that.
// Header image: Aamir Simms – Photo courtesy of Aamir Simms