I met University of Evansville men’s basketball coach Marty Simmons Thursday, and it didn’t take long for us to start chatting about next season.
The discussion centered around the Aces’ junior college transfers — 6-foot-1 combo guard Taylor Stafford and 6-7 power forward Willie Wiley — but Simmons also touched on other topics, including how star guard D.J. Balentine informed him that 6-10 center Egidijus Mockevicius has been drilling 3-pointers in workouts. Simmons laughed when he said this, so don’t expect Mackevicius to abandon the low post and start hoisting treys this season.
Anyway, here is what Simmons had to say:
On Wiley: “He’s long and he’s got shot-blocking ability. The neat thing is he has the ability to step out and make perimeter jump shots, but we think one of his greatest assets is the glass. He’s got big hands, he’s long and he’s athletic. He’ll not only help us on the defensive glass, but give us something that we’ve lacked in an offensive rebounding threat.”
On Stafford: “He’s kind of an Energizer bunny. He’s got a high motor and he loves basketball. He can score. He’s a good shooter, elevates on his jumper.”
We talked about how UE brings back everyone who contributed at the end of last season (Ryan Sawvell was a key piece before transferring mid-season), and where the transfers would fit in.
Simmons: “When you have a bunch of guys back, it’s always interesting to see how the new guys (fit). They both have good personalities and are both big team guys. I think they both bring some qualities that maybe we didn’t have.”
“I just think from a depth standpoint, going into it, this is our best group. We feel like we’ve got a lot of versatility, a lot of flexibility. We can play big, we can play small, we’ve got some athletic teams we can put out there, got some guys that can shoot the ball. The neat part’s gonna be the competition — we’re going to have more competition in practice every day than I think we’ve ever had here.”
The players are lifting weights and conditioning this summer in addition to the allotted two hours of individual instruction per week with the coaching staff.