September 7, 2016

Simpson is emerging

Kevin McCarthy

Early on in grade and middle schools, Chris Simpson was positioned inside because he was the tallest player on his teams. Now the Jesuit High junior measures 6-foot-5, has transitioned to being a wing/two guard and was the No. 9 prospect in the NorCalPreps 2018 Boys Basketball pre-summer Top 40

photo of Chris Simpson

Known for his deadly outside shot, Simpson offered "it would probably have to be "my shooting and rebounding" as his leading skills. "I didn't grow to 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 but I always had good shooting form. I work on putting up a lot of shots everyday." Another element as a result of his efforts is "my off-the-dribble game has gotten better." Having spent seventh and eighth grade as a traditional big man until making the transition to facing the basket, Simpson averaged 5.8 points 3.9 rebounds, shooting 37% on threes as a sophomore last season.

Jesuit Coach Jon Rotz said, "Chris is an all-around great kid and teammate and an outstanding shooter with a pure, natural release. He was our second best rebounder behind Malik Duffy because he's aggressive going to the glass, he's long and has good reach. He's still young although he's played varsity for two years and, historically in our program, there's been a certain process in regards to development."

Rotz also noted that the difference in Duffy's development as a sophomore versus his senior season was "night and day. Malik got so much better in all areas we value and if Chris continues to work hard there is no reason he can't have the impact Malik did."

Simpson has also participated in baseball at Jesuit -- "I started playing when I was four." Basketball entered his sports activities "when I was eight or nine. One day I was watching a college basketball game on television and it looked like so much fun on the court." Now it's full bore hoops for him with a shared passion for both sports.

It has been a differentiation in roles for Simpson between Jesuit and his Nor Cal EBA Pharaohs travel team. "With the Pharaohs, my role is to score, rebound, play hard defense, and be a team leader." Here's Pharaohs Coach Jason Barton, "Chris is a phenomenal three-point shooter -- he can spread the floor, go off the dribble, off the pick, with a one dribble pull up -- the kid can shoot. He understands the game far beyond his years and understands defensive angles. Chris never gets rattled regardless of the situation."

In high school, Simpson has started in games since his freshman year but "I was a spot-up shooter as a freshman and sophomore while providing some leadership last season."

He's looking to major in sports management during college. "I'd like to be a general manager. I'm good with statistics and where people fit in sports." Simpson is on track academically and will be take the national testing that is scheduled for October.

As for his top moments so far, each is a reflection on his teams and not individualistic. With the Pharaohs, "we beat a pretty solid team from Portland by nine or 10." In the high school ranks, "beating Cathedral Catholic by three or four was nice." But the topper for Simpson was besting Woodcreek High 77-68 in the 2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Playoffs.

Besides Simpson, Jesuit has 6-foot-1 senior Matt Erlich, 5-foot-11 junior Jake Virga, 6-foot-8 junior Darin Similai, 6-foot-1 sophomore Isaiah Rutherford plus others returning from a squad that went 25-6 overall and 12-2 in the Delta League. "It's a close group," according to Rotz. "With the loss of Duffy and Ethan Pangelinan, we'll need guys to step up and make winning plays in critical moments."

Cue Chris Simpson.