Photo: Darryl Simmons Darryl Simmons

Posted On: 05/2/21 7:39 AM

Darryl Simmons Darryl Simmons 5'9" | PG Putnam Science | 2022 State | 5’10″ | Lead Initiator | Class of 2023 | Putnam Science Academy | Expressions Elite EYBL 

Born in Detroit, Michigan, and now residing in Norwich, CT, Darryl “Buddy” Simmons made the move to Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut when he was in 8th grade. The rising junior currently plays AAU for the Expressions Elite EYBL and the Prep Putnam Science Academy Team. Having watched Simmons in both the practice and game setting it is obvious that he is a tireless worker, constant communicator, and quick learner. Constantly in the gym finding ways to get better, Simmons plays with an edge, but always seems to holds himself and teammates to high standards. I recently got a chance to catch up with him after a recent tournament at the Nike EYBL Midwest Mania in Indianapolis. Simmons currently has offers from UMass Amherst, Kentucky State, and Bryant, and has garnered interest from other D1 programs.

So starting off, I know you are from Detroit, are you still a Pistons fan?

I don’t have a favorite basketball team, but I have some specific players I like to watch.

Like who? 

I like Chris Paul, I like Kyrie Irving, and I like Damian Lillard, I like any type of basketball player that has an impact on the game. I like true point guard, I like Chris Paul, I like the way he controls the game in the pick and roll.

I know you like John Wall as well.

I like John Wall, he’s so explosive, and Russell Westbrook too, they are both so explosive and bring a lot of energy to the game. But John Wall is slept on.

Who was your favorite college player to watch this season?

When I was watching college basketball, I was interested in Sharife Cooper, my boy Tyson Etienne who plays at Wichita State, my boy Hassan Diarra plays at Texas A&M, and Kyle Lofton at St. Bonaventure, those players contribute to winning on high major teams. 

Some Putnam Science Academy guys, so you got a chance to play against Kyle Lofton? 

Yea when I was in 8th grade when we had open gyms at our school. I was allowed to play in them when they asked me, so I used to play against him and with him in open gyms in front of college coaches as well. It was fun, a lot of learning though. Kyle Loften, Hassan those guys were some of the best guards I’ve played against. 

Walk us through your career at Putnam Science Academy. What’s that been like for you? 

I started at Putnam Science when I was in 8th grade, I played JV Basketball when I was in 8th grade, then the next year when I was in 9th grade I moved up to play varsity. I had a small role off the bench, I got in the game cause I played defense, I had a lot of energy, I talked on the floor, I made an impact. During my 10th grade year I was still on the varsity team, that’s when coach Dana came. I pretty much ran the show when I was playing with them. Then in the middle of the year I got called up to the prep team. 

I had a limited role, I came in at the end of blowouts but I made the most of my time. Then the year after that I re-claseed then I got to play with the prep team fully. I got to play behind my boy Bensley Joseph Bensley Joseph 6'1" | PG Putnam Science | 2021 State #80 Nation who used to play for Expressions Elite, then he had an injury so he couldn’t play any more. I had to step up. Now I started on the prep team and things got much better from there. I kept playing and I kept learning. 

I had big shoes to fill because Besnley left, but I played well and thought I brought a lot to the team. 

What are the expectations for next year?

Main goal is to win another national championship, I really want to win two more rings. I already have one ring from the COVID year when we were co-national champions with Brewster Academy. So the main goal is to win two more. That would bring it to three in total. I’d be the first to do that, and I want to prove to college coaches that at a young age, I can run a team, and no matter my size. They can see that I’m a true point guard. 

How about Expression Elite, talk a bit about this past weekend in Indianapolis.

We went 4-1, we lost to Houston Hoops by one point in the last three seconds. Overall this past weekend, I felt like I played really well. I felt like I was a leader on the floor, I had the point guard duties. I got assists, I moved the ball, I talked on defense, I got my teammates involved, if there isn’t a point guard on the floor who will control the pace.  

Just generally, how has the Expression Elite experience been thus far?

The whole experience has been good overall, I’ve felt I learned a lot of new and good stuff. We play high competition, just like in high school. A lot of competition and a lot of people watching.   

Let’s go back one year from today. I know you’ve always been a skilled guard in both the playmaking and scoring department, but how has your game developed? I know you’ve added 10 pounds of muscle, but what else have you done to improve your game this past year?

Shooting at the three point line and in the midrange but I also feel like having a chip on my shoulder, being more of an alpha. This season I averaged 12.1 points per game, shot 55.4% from the field, and 46.5% from three. I took 88 three pointers and made 41. I had a low (1.7) turnover ratio and averaged 4.4 assists per game. I improved my toughness on the glass, smaller guards usually don’t want to go into the paint but with the added muscle and confidence. I feel better contesting for boards. It improved my game, but it’s about being an alpha having the heart of a lion.

You grasp plays and offensive concepts quickly, I’ve seen it practice, I’ve seen it on film, I’ve seen it in games. I want to talk more about how you read the game. When you watch the film of yourself, do you watch more of the mistakes or more of the ’wow that play worked’ types of plays? 

I really try to critique myself especially when it comes to turning over the ball. Offensively, I like to see spots where I could have scored. I really look at more of the areas for improvement so I don’t have to make the same mistakes over and over again. 

Let’s move over to the other side of the ball, I saw you a few weeks ago in Hanover. I saw some instances of you holding your ground in the post. A common misconception with shorter guards is that they can’t guard post-ups, but you see with Chris Paul and Kyle Lowery how effective they are when defending the post. Is this something you’ve worked on over the summer? 

In school, I have to guard a lot of taller kids. Guys who are 6’6” and even taller. But yes, I have to figure out a way to guard the big man. I know that when there’s a pick & roll with the opposite team I am going to have to switch at times, so I need to front them so they don’t get the ball. It’s something that I’ve for sure worked on recently. 

What are some areas of improvement?

Finding the opportunity of when to score the ball as a point guard. Picking my scoring spots. But also finding opportunities of when I can feed my teammates. I know I can pass the ball, but at times I feel like I need to shoot more and pick my spots. If my teammates are struggling, being more of a scoring spark and knowing when to look for my shot. 

Tell me about your Twitter handle. What’s the deal with that? What are the origins of Buddy?

Buddy came from my dad, my dad used to call me Buddy when I was little, he still does to this day, my whole family calls me buddy, you know what I don’t even know, probably cause I was his first boy. The bestmode came from the Xbox One, so my mom said, put the beast mode cause that was my nickname. 

When did you learn how to juggle?

When I was probably 10 years old. I used to juggle toy cars and other objects I had.

Can you juggle basketballs?

No, haha, I can only really juggle the small balls. 

Second favorite hobby outside of juggling?

I like to read and I like to play video games. I like books that give me knowledge and motivation like Pound the Stone or Chop Wood Carry Water. Building my mindset to keep working.

What was your most played song?

That’s it – Future, Posted With Demons – Future, Finesse Out The Gang Way – Lil Durk 

Who inspires you?

My mom and dad, the way they wake up early in the morning to help us out, they inspire me the most, the way they keep going, the way they keep grinding. And God, always have to have faith. 

Any idea on what you’d want to study in college?

Something business-related would be interesting. 

What do you see yourself doing after the ball stops bouncing?

I always want to be around the game. I want to be involved with basketball maybe in the front office. I don’t want to leave the game. If I can make money and be around the game I’ll do it.

You have the last word. What do you want to leave us with as you head into the summer of 2021?

I want colleges know who I am, let them know my name, and let know that I am a high level point guard. I am a true point guard and I’ve got a lot of stuff to prove which I am going to show them this summer. 

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