CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — When he announced his commitment to Louisville last fall, Anfernee Simons made one thing clear: He wanted to end the intense college recruiting process and focus on basketball.
Simons still had busy school and AAU seasons ahead of him, and those campaigns attract coaches in search of their next stars. But Simons, a 6-foot-4 guard from Orlando had had enough of the attention.
On Thursday, some eight months after his decision to commit earlier than most prospects in the 2018 class, Simons remained satisfied with his choice.
“I’m happy not worrying about college coaches being on the sideline,” Simons said after his second game at the Under Armour Association finals here in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. “Just play and compete.”
The early college decision helped Simons start focusing on several aspects of his game that he’d like to improve before he arrives at Louisville next year, and he’s already seeing his work pay off.
He is up to 177 pounds, he said, which allows him “to be able to take bumps easier.”
He is also more confident in his scoring ability. Known for his knack for getting to the rim, Simons has developed into one of the top shooters in his class, too. He has made 42.6 percent of his 3-pointers and is averaging 14.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for Team Breakdown, his Florida-based AAU team.
Simons compiled 28 points and seven rebounds Wednesday night with U of L coach Rick Pitino in attendance, and he followed that up with 23 points and five rebounds on Thursday with Louisville assistant Jordan Fair on hand.
What’s more, Simons is now ranked as high as No. 7 by 247Sports in the 2018 recruiting rankings. ESPN also considers Simons a five-star prospect, while Rivals and Scout both list him as a highly-ranked four-star recruit.
“It shows that I work hard all the time,” Simons said. “I’m just trying to get better every day.”
Simons announced last week his plans to attend IMG Academy, a prep school focused on athletic training. He plans to treat it like his first year of college, even if it’s just a two-hour drive home to Orlando from the school’s Bradenton campus.
He’ll work with nutritionists and strength trainers to get him ready for the grind of college basketball, and he’ll play on a post-secondary team that competes with some of the top prep programs in the country.
“They have the facilities to get me much better,” Simons said. “It’s a college-type atmosphere. … I want the college experience before I get (to U of L) so I can be ready.”
Simons said the instructions from Louisville’s coaching staff are pretty straightforward: “Just compete every game.”
Simons is also working on building a relationship with future Louisville point guard Courtney Ramey, a 6-3 St. Louis native who is the other Cards pledge in the class.
Ramey and Simons spent time together at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June and have hit it off.
Simons came away impressed by his future teammate’s passing prowess. Ramey, Simons said, is a distributor who is a “pass-first guy.”
That’s music to Simons’ ears.
“He sets you up really nicely,” Simons said. “I can’t wait to play with him.”