Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Hours before tip-off at the Siegel Center, junior guard Mike’l Simms is on the court putting up shots in the empty arena just after the dance team finishes practice.
“This year, yes. Last year I didn’t,” Simms said about showing up early to the arena. “I just want it more. I want to be successful, I want to win and it’s paid off — not just for me but for everybody. Everybody wants to win, and nothing [is] getting in the way of winning.”
When the Rams traveled earlier this season, Simms took an Uber to get to the opposing team’s arena early before the rest of his teammates. He put extra work in before tip-off, but recently Simms started riding with the team to games.
Simms’ work ethic is what brought the Richmond native to VCU.
“[VCU was] always my dream school,” Simms said. “It was either here or Georgetown because of Allen Iverson, of course. Ain’t nothing like playing in the backyard at VCU, it was always on my mind.”
Despite receiving little attention from recruiters while playing at Highland Springs High School, Simms worked his way up.
“At one point, it wasn’t realistic for me to play here, because I wasn’t getting recruited or anything like that,” Simms said, “but I kept working and working, and I’m here.”
Simms played at Cowley Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas, after high school. In his season at Cowley, Simms shot 43.8 percent from the field, including 35.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Coach Mike Rhoades recruited the 6-foot 5-inch guard from Cowley to bring Simms back home for the rest of his collegiate career. This season, he has played in all 30 games averaging 4.7 points off the bench.
But before Simms arrives at the Siegel Center on game day, he has to make one stop on his way — Subway.
“That’s my favorite thing to eat on game day,” Simms said. “I get my two cookies. I’ve got to have my two cookies.”
When the Rams are on the road, Simms improvises and eats a muffin.
Simms and the rest of the team’s hard work from the summer and throughout the season lead to the Atlantic 10 Regular Season Title.
“I came in to win so it’s been everything I’ve dreamed of,” Simms said. “We just made history [against George Mason], so that’s even better. I may not be shooting the ball well but as long as we winning, I could care less.”
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