Junior point guard announces commitment
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Standing in front of orange and black balloons, junior Savannah Simmons’s hands shake as she looks to her teammates next to her. She counts down from three, and several balloons pop, exploding with purple and white confetti. Simultaneously, Simmons unzips her jacket to reveal a purple Kansas State shirt underneath.
After receiving approximately 25 offers to continue her basketball career in college, the point guard announced her decision to commit to Kansas State after the men’s basketball game against St. Frances on Feb. 17.
This long-awaited announcement has been preoccupying Simmons for the last few months. “[I felt] nervous, not of what people thought, but just that I’m actually here and I accomplished my dreams. It’s a really great feeling,” she said as her eyes teared up.
After realizing her potential the summer after her freshman year, Simmons knew she’d play for a Division I school, but didn’t think she would go this high. “The [women’s basketball team] is ranked in the top 25 of the country. I didn’t get good until eighth grade – seventh grade I sat the bench all the time, and I didn’t think I was going to make it cause my teammates were better than me,” she said.
Simmons’s top five choices were Clemson, Kansas State, Seton Hall, George Washington, and St. Joseph’s, but Kansas State stood out and felt like “a home away from home.” “It really just felt like the one. The second time I [visited], I went out there to see if I got the same feeling that I did the first time, which was a great feeling, and I absolutely did.”
Simmons considered several different things before making her decision including location, strong academics, and having a good relationship with the coach and players. However, her parents did not tell her what their top choice was during this process. “They’d tell me, ‘oh I like this or this,’ but they wouldn’t go overboard. They wanted it to be completely my decision, which I liked, and it was easier for me,” she said.
Savannah’s head coach, trainer, and father Craig Simmons, who has coached Simmons since fourth grade, felt “extremely proud” of his daughter. “I’ve watched her mature and develop into the player and person that she is right now so it’s really neat to see that transition from a little young fourth grader to a rising senior who just committed to go to an amazing university,” he said.
Although the pressure to commit is no longer there, Simmons plans to use her commitment as motivation to learn how to balance the sport and academics in addition to improve her basketball skills. “College is a whole other level – it’s quicker, faster, stronger. I really need to build up a little bit,” she said.
Craig Simmons plans to increase Simmons’s workout routine and help her prepare for college. “We’re going to train even harder than we did for her high school career, she may not like me after some of the stuff we’ll have to do, but it’s my job to get her ready and make sure she’s ready for college,” he said.
Simmons accredits her success to her teammates and having a strong support system. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without them. I wouldn’t have gotten looks if it wasn’t for them. The coaches that came to certain games that we won was because of them. I have ten other sisters on the team, I love them,” she said.
Caroline Cooney is the Editor in Chief of The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.