With immediate and extended family surrounding him in orange shirts that read “Property of the Purple Aces,” Castle High School forward Blake Simmons signed a letter of intent Thursday afternoon during a ceremony at his school, joining Fishers (Ind.) High School point guard Jaylon Brown as official members of the Aces’ 2013 men’s basketball recruiting class.
“It’s definitely a relief,” said Simmons, son of UE coach Marty Simmons. “My dad’s been great through it. He knows when to be the coach and when to be the dad. He tries to come to all the (Castle) games he can. He’s really supportive of me, and I’m excited to get to play for him next year.
“I’m going to have to adjust to calling him coach instead of dad,” he added
Blake Simmons will be a scholarship player at UE and already plans to wear No. 15 for the Aces rather than No. 50, his high school number as well as the one Marty Simmons wore at UE.
The 6-foot-5 small forward averaged 19.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a junior on a Knights team that went 20-5 and earned a Class 4A semistate berth.
Additionally, Blake Simmons carries a 4.0 grade-point average and belongs to the National Honor Society.
Father and son rarely talk about what’s ahead, Blake Simmons said, instead concentrating their conversations on the current Aces’ squad and how it can improve.
“I’m actually excited to play for him because every player I’ve talked to that he’s had that’s graduated from UE or is still playing for him tells me he’s awesome to have as a coach,” he said. “They tell me he pushes them as hard as he can, and they become better from it.”
While the Castle senior said he’s working on his quickness, vertical leap and becoming a low post player, he prides himself on communication and handles the ball well for his size.
“I’m not a bad shooter either,” said Blake Simmons, who hit 41 percent of his 3-point attempts last season.
His verbal commitment last May was the first for UE’s 2013 class.
“I got letters from other schools and I talked to a few people, but for the most part I knew UE was going to be my home,” he said.
Duane Gibson, a point guard out of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, will sign at a school ceremony Friday afternoon to complete UE’s three-player class.