2018 NBA Draft’s mystery guard Anfernee Simons works out for Suns

May 28, 2018, 1:51 PM | Updated: May 29, 2018, 8:38 am
IMG Post Grad National's Anfernee Simons #3 in action against Vermont Academy during a high school ...
IMG Post Grad National's Anfernee Simons #3 in action against Vermont Academy during a high school basketball game at the Hoophall Classic, Sunday, January 14, 2018, in Springfield,MA. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
(AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

PHOENIX — Monday’s draft workout for the Phoenix Suns was filled with experienced guards that had a body to match that experience. Bruce Brown Jr. out of Miami and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday were notable athletes to attend, but then there was Anfernee Simons, who was not difficult to pick out amongst the rest of the group.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and a 183 pounds, Simons looked every bit of the prospect who did not play in college with his thin frame.

He was originally committed to Louisville but decided in November he would go pro.

Since the 18-year-old had already graduated from Edgewater High School in Orlando, would be 19 years old and had already been out of high school for a year by June, he was eligible for the process.

It’s hard not to be enamored with Simons when you see some of his highlights from high school.

Simons is a smooth and explosive athlete who has deep range on his jumper with some ball-handling ability to possess potential as a scoring combo guard.

He spent last year playing for IMG Academy in Florida, where all 30 NBA teams have seen him play, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

But, there’s more mystery around him than nearly any other prospect. The difference in the level of competition between his season at IMG and a typical college year is stark, and it’s impossible to properly judge how he will translate or how long he will take to develop.

Simons attended the NBA Combine but wisely sat out 5-on-5 play, where he could have been exposed by more seasoned guards.

He has a lot to prove. Simons said he wants to show he’s a smart player and mature enough to handle the jump to professional basketball.

“Confidence in myself, play with confidence out there,” he said of his keys to the workout.

Regarding his frame, Simons says he’s working on it every day but doesn’t want to try and force it.

“(I want to) gradually get stronger, I don’t want to bulk up too quick,” he said. “It comes with age.”

Assistant general manager Pat Connelly noted Simons is still maturing when he talked about how the Suns were scouting the guard.

“Physically he wasn’t able to … probably get the same strength training that all these guys got at other colleges, so you can see the basketball limits of it and you just kind of project how his frame carries strength and develops over time,” Connelly said.

Simons has the potential to be a multi-dimensional player, something he focused on presenting Tuesday.

“Show them I can play, hold my own, play defense, score the ball, pass the ball,” Simons said.

A player with Simons’ upside to shoot and score the ball at a high level with top-tier athleticism is an enticing thought next to the Suns’ Devin Booker.

Simons is projected to go from the mid-to-late first round, where the Suns hold a selection at No. 16 and also kick off the second round at No. 31.

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2018 NBA Draft’s mystery guard Anfernee Simons works out for Suns