This week's Athlete of the Week feature is sponsored by Bond Clinic.
Joshua Simons, a 6-foot-3 forward for the Bartow High boys basketball team, has been an important player for the Yellow Jackets in each of his first three seasons with the program — all of which were seasons that saw Bartow finish above .500 and make the regional playoffs.
Now a senior, Simons is fresh off of a strong summer with his Bartow teammates and is turning his attention toward the AAU schedule, during which he’ll try and make the best possible impression on college programs — from which he is already garnering interest.
How do you think the team did this summer?
From the team standpoint, I feel like we did good. We tried something we haven’t done before — we kind of split all 12 people on the team. We alternated games to see how people play with different playtime and sets. It was a hard at first, but at the end of the day it did benefit us.
Where are you looking to improve as an individual this offseason?
I’m trying to improve on my passing and my ballhandling, because as an undersized post player, I need to be able to stretch the floor.
What do you think about preparing for your senior season?
It’s kind of surreal. I remember like it was yesterday, seeing all those seniors welcoming me to the high school my freshman year. Now I’m in the same shoes as them, welcoming new freshman — so it’s kind of humbling.
What makes the Bartow boys basketball program unique?
Hard work — not just from a basketball point, but just around the community. It’s heavily faith-based, trying to get you better as a young man and making sure you’re right with God. It’s bigger than basketball.
What are you looking for in a college program?
As long as what they have to offer academically meshes with what they offer athletic-wise. In case basketball doesn’t work out, I want to be able to fall back on something that I want to do academically.
What are you thinking you might like to study in college?
I like Japanese and eastern Asian languages and culture a lot. ... I really love writing and English and also sports marketing and management. One of those three (areas of study) I would like to pick.
Who is a teacher at Bartow High who has made a lasting impression on you?
Besides Coach (Terrence) McGriff, Mr. Belcher — he was my biology teacher my freshman year. He just came back this year. He would make stuff not only fun, but he would try and relate it to real life.
Who is an underclassman teammate fans should keep an eye out for?
I would say Carlos Rojas.
What’s a good movie you saw recently?
“Avengers: Endgame.” I’m a comic book nerd and so I liked seeing all the Avengers back together to finish the series.
What are some comic book characters or comic series you like to follow?
I love the Amazing Spider-Man series and, bringing it to D.C. (Comics), I love the Batman series. I also love anime and all the kind of stuff.
What are you impressions so far of NBA Free Agency?
At first you hear a lot of rumors, but it’s still kind of shocking when you see the money these guys are getting paid and the teams they actually end up going to ... I’m excited because all of these teams are getting players that you wouldn’t really have seen in their system.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.