Senior Send-Off: Saint Mary’s Desmond Simmons


With the Aussie pipeline not producing as many superstars as it has in recent years and the Gaels quickly falling behind BYU and Gonzaga, Randy Bennett hit the transfer market hard to build up his team in the short term. With Kerry Carter and Brad Waldow embarking on their senior seasons, he wanted as much support for them as possible.

Much of the attention last offseason was on Aaron Bright, the Stanford transfer who was expected to be the next great Gaels guard. But the Gaels also acquired another transfer for a single year who ended up making a big impact. Desmond Simmons also spent a very short time in Moraga after coming from Washington, but he helped round out the frontcourt and gave some much needed support down low behind Waldow.

Simmons was a highly regarded forward coming out of high school in Richmond, California. He was ranked at his position by all major recruiting outlets, and big things were likely expected of him heading to the very talented Pac-12 Conference. But after redshirting his first season, things never quite worked out. Simmons played consistently for two years, but never saw big minutes.

In the 2013-14 season, a knee injury in the preseason cost him half of the year. But he did show good versatility when he returned averaging 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game the rest of the way. He always rebounding ability, as evident by his sophomore season when he finished 14th in the Pac-12 with 6.5 rebounds per game despite the limited minutes.

Looking for a change of scenery, Simmons graduated in 2014 and applied for a graduate transfer, allowing him to play out his final season of eligibility immediately for another school. Bennett saw a diamond in the rough who had potential when given more minutes, and Simmons saw a school loaded with talent but that still had a role open for him closer to his home and in another quality conference. The fit was perfect.

Simmons finally got his minutes, and he made the most of them. He appeared in every game in 2014-15 for the Gaels including starting all but one. While he didn’t see his stats balloon, his play fit the Gaels perfectly. Waldow was the star, that was always going to be true. But Simmons was able to support him with defense, rebounds, and the occasional bucket. He averaged 5 points per game, and his 6.4 rebounds per game was 2nd on the team behind Waldow and 6th in the conference.

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The season didn’t turn out like the Gaels had hoped, but Simmons was a huge boost in the frontcourt, arguably almost as big as the boost Bright gave the backcourt. Bringing in guys to start for one year has the potential to be very dangerous and disrupt chemistry, but both players did a fine job of melding into their teams and letting the incumbent stars do their work.

Simmons only spent a short time with the Gaels, but he played a big role. And any success they had this year, including the big season by Waldow, can be at least partially credited to him. If you’re going to bring in a transfer for only year to support your current team, doing it the way Bennett brought Simmons to Moraga is the right way.