With the NCAA men’s basketball season right around the corner, SUU is expected to compete for their first ever Big Sky Championship. The team will be led by fourth-year head coach Todd Simon, who is no stranger to having talent on his roster.
Before SUU, Simon coached at UNLV and Findlay Prep in Las Vegas and helped develop several NBA-caliber players during his time.
The most prolific of these players is likely Anthony Bennett, who was the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Simon coached Bennett at Findlay Prep and UNLV en route to being the top overall pick. Bennett was cut from the Houston Rockets after requiring knee surgery at the beginning of October
Avery Bradley is another player Simon coached at Findlay Prep. Bradley starred at the University of Texas-Austin before being drafted 19th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Bradley has turned into one of the best defensive players in the league, often being given the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player. He is currently the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.
NBA champion Tristian Thompson is also included in Simon’s prolific players list. Simon coached him during the later part of the 2008-09 season after Thompson had transferred from a previous high school. Thompson also played at Texas before becoming the fourth overall pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Thompson has become one of the most dominant rebounding centers in the league and his leadership on the Cavs helped them win the 2016 NBA Championship. Thompson currently still plays for the Cavs and starts at center.
Nigel Williams-Goss played for Simon during his entire high school career from 2009-13. Williams-Goss was an All-American player for Simon as a senior after averaging 18 points and seven assists per game.
Williams-Goss would lead the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a national championship game in his junior season before losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels. After college, Williams-Goss was the 55th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz.
He signed a two-year deal overseas to improve his game. Two years later, Williams-Goss is now the projected third-string point guard for the Jazz.
Christian Wood rounds out the biggest names that have been coached by Simon. Wood played for Simon at Findlay Prep and UNLV from 2011-15 before going undrafted after his college career.
Wood has become the focus of several call-ups from the NBA G-League after averaging 29 points and 14 rebounds per game for the Wisconsin Herd. Wood made the final roster with the Detroit Pistons, but has traveled around the league for New Orleans, Philadelphia and Milwaukee
Other players coached by Simon include Cory Joseph, DeAndre Liggins and Naz Mitrou-Long.
SUU will begin their season on Nov. 5 when they take on Bethesda College in the America First Events Center at 7 p.m.
Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics.