Blake Simmons always spent time around his father’s UE men’s basketball program, but Marty Simmons seemingly made it a point never to directly recruit his son.
Assistant coaches spoke to Blake, then attending Castle High School, after workouts and shootarounds. They developed a relationship with the sharpshooting forward as coaches do with other recruits. And they maintained it, enough that Blake knew he wanted to play for the Aces.
He just needed a scholarship offer first.
“We were riding to one of my AAU tournaments, and my dad kind of laid it out for me, saying, ‘We’re going to offer you a scholarship’ and all that,” Blake said. “He explained that it’s going to be tough for us because of the situation we’re in — father and son. He said, ‘I’m going to be on you harder than others,’ and I understood that because after talking to Doug (McDermott at Creighton), I knew about it.”
That conversation came in May of 2012. Blake committed to UE on the spot, becoming the first player in what’s ended up a five-player incoming recruiting class this year.
“It was emotional, you know?” Marty said. “For all of us, because certainly my wife has done a terrific job of raising Blake and being a part of any success he’s had. Really, our entire family has given him great support throughout his career. When he did actually make the decision, it was emotional — all good feelings. It was a special day. I think we’re all really excited about the opportunity.”
The decision was easy much because of a run-in the Simmons’ father-son combo had with coach Greg McDermott and player Doug McDermott of Creighton at the Final Four in New Orleans.
Doug recently announced, following a Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and All-American season, that he’ll return to play his senior season with the Bluejays.
“We ran into them there and they gave us some advice — kind of what they do — and talking to Doug was really neat hearing his side of the story,” Blake said. ”Really, they just said that when you’re in between the lines and on the court, it’s all business. You can’t take that home with you. Once you’re at home, you’ve got to be father and son. You’ve got to leave all the coach and player on the court. They can’t overlap.”
So far, that’s been the case.
Blake is already on campus this summer, where he calls Marty “Coach” instead of “Dad.”
“He told me I really deserved (the scholarship), which meant a lot to me,” Blake said. “A lot of people might say, ‘Oh, he’s just the coach’s son.’ But hearing that I deserved it from him really meant a lot.”
This week, Blake is playing with the prestigious Indiana All-Stars. The team played twice against the Indiana Junior All-Stars this week and has games Friday against Kentucky at Freedom Hall and Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.