Arizona freshman guard Kobi Simmons, who played a key role in a season-opening win over Michigan State and an early conference victory at UCLA, has declared for the NBA Draft and will not return, the school announced Wednesday.
Simmons fell out of favor in coach Sean Miller’s rotation late in the season, but this move doesn’t come as a surprise. The word all along out of Simmons’ camp was that he wanted to turn pro. And so he has.
He’s an athletic 6-foot-5 prospect, with explosive dunking ability, so he likely will “test well” when he gets in front of NBA scouts.
“Kobi Simmons, with the support of his family, has decided to declare for the 2017 NBA Draft,” Miller said in a release. “All of us here at Arizona thank him for his freshman season and wish him continued success as he pursues his professional career.”
Simmons was a starter for much of the season — until Allonzo Trier returned from a 19-game NCAA suspension. Simmons ended up averaging 8.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists, appearing in all 37 games and starting 19.
He opened the season with 18 points against Michigan State, and he put up a career-high 20 at UCLA. But he scored in double-digit points just twice in the final 17 games. He saw more than six minutes only once in the final seven games.
Trier’s return, plus the return to health of point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, pushed Simmons to last in a five-man rotation in the three perimeter spots.
“I have enjoyed my time at Arizona very much,” Simmons said in a statement. “I would like to thank my teammates, coaches and our great fans for their support and effort in making my year truly a special one. Bear Down.”
Simmons is listed at No. 51 overall — which puts him toward the end of the second round — in a mock draft on draftexpress.com.
He is the sixth Arizona basketball player to be one-and-done, joining Jerryd Bayless, Aaron Gordon, Grant Jerrett, Stanley Johnson and Lauri Marrkanen, who announced he was turning pro last week.
Bayless, Gordon and Johnson were lottery picks. Markkanen is expected to be a lottery pick, too. Jerrett was a second-rounder who was selected in the second round (40th pick) in 2013.