Huggins' recruit called 'hidden gem' by former NBA player
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dickey Simpkins knows what it's like to be hidden, even a bit overlooked.
He has three NBA championship rings as a member of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Yet he was not on the active roster for the first two of the runs in which he received rings. He was traded to Golden State and waived. In his second stint with Chicago, the Bulls eventually renounced their rights to him after signing Brad Miller.
Yet Simpkins is a success story. He played in the NBA every year between 1994 to 2001, with the exception of 2000, when he played in Greece. He's worked as an ESPN analyst and is a motivational speaker. And he's the founder of Next Level Performance, a basketball development company.
He was with NLP, and the AAU basketball team named after it, when he met new WVU commitment Jevon Carter, a guard from Maywood, Ill., who gave Mountaineer coach Huggins his word late Tuesday night.
Carter, who also plays for Proviso East High, led NLP to the 17-and-under AAU national title this year. Simpkins was his coach.
"A lot of colleges offer kids just because other high-major schools are interested," Simpkins said. "I've had some schools offer some of my kids without even seeing them. But WVU followed Jevon, liked what they saw, and offered. I have to commend Bob Huggins for seeing a gem in Jevon."
Simpkins knows talent. Among others, he sent Brandon Paul from his AAU program to Illinois. Two forwards currently on his team are highly sought. Carter, though, had only received offers from mid-majors like Lehigh, Green Bay-Wisconsin, Loyola and La Salle. Tennessee, Wake Forest and Northwestern had shown interest, but hadn't offered.
"It baffled me," Simpkins said. "He's a hidden gem. The ones who passed up on him will be like, 'Man, what did we do?' "
Simpkins said Carter is "a combo guard who can play point or shooting guard."
"He's a very explosive scorer and shooter. He's a great combination of scorer and defender. Normally, if you're one, you're not the other. He's one of the better on-ball defenders in AAU ball."
WVU projects Carter as a point guard, even though he's only been at the position for a season.
"He's definitely a scorer," Simpkins said. "He came in here as a shooter in the eighth grade. I told him he needed to add point-guard skills. He did.
"He can shoot the 3. Off the bounce he has a mid-range game. He's quick and a very tough and good kid. He's a coachable kid from a good family. He's a 'Yes, coach' type of kid.
"I believe he's a Bob Huggins-type kid who can add shooting to their [Mountaineer] team."
Simpkins' NLP team defeated Team Thad of Memphis in the AAU championship.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.