Jaquan Simms moved higher and higher through the Newton High School boys’ basketball program until he reached his dream Tuesday.
Simms, the Rams leading scorer in his senior year, signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Limestone College.
Simms averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 assists per game as Newton reached the Class AAAAAA final four in 2016 and drew the attention of several junior colleges. However, Limestone’s offer of a four-year education and a chance to play in the NCAA Division II was the right fit for Simms.
“I’m excited,” Simms said. “It’s my dream of playing college basketball, and I get to further my education.”
Simms started playing basketball in the fifth grade, but didn’t start taking it seriously until 10th grade. That’s the year he first started playing with Newton’s varsity basketball team. In 11th grade, he said he took it even more seriously and was the Rams’ leading scorer in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Simms was also named a GACA State All-Star, an All-Region 2-AAAAAA performer and an All-Area and All-Newton County first team honoree.
“It was a long journey,” Simms said. “My 10th grade year we got out in the first round, my 11th grade year we made it to the elite 8 as an underdog and in my senior year, me J.D. (Notae) and Ahston (Hagans) led the team to the final four.”
Along with chasing a state championship, Simms was also chasing a college education. When Limestone College coach Brandon Scott reached out to Newton coach Rick Rasmussen that he was interested in the Rams’ high-scoring guard, Simms decided to visit the Gaffney, South Carolina college.
Scott also came down to Newton and watched Simms in his home gym, really showing an interest in the Rams’ guard.
“I have had a relationship with Limestone’s coach for a long time,” Rasmussen said. “[Limestone] recruited D.J. Hill last year, and have recruited a lot of our guys. This will be the first one they actually landed.”
Simms hopes to have an immediate impact on the Saints, who he says thinks he has a chance to contribute right away. Simms will play shooting guard at Limestone, which finished 12-18 last seasons and lost in the second round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
“He’s going to have a chance to contribute on both sides of the floor,” Rasmussen said. “They really love him.”