The past six weeks haven’t been exactly what Troy Simons expected.
And now, even though it might have taken some time, he’s OK with that.
Simons, the first recruit landed by Paul Weir after the new Lobos men’s basketball coach was hired in April, admits the offseason work he and his teammates have been going through leading up to Wednesday’s first official practice of the season has been anything but what he expected.
“It’s way different than juco — way more work that I’ve put in right now than I did at juco,” said Simons, the 6-foot-2 shooting guard who was the national junior college scoring champion last season at Polk State College in Winter Haven, Fla.
“I knew it was going to be work, but I didn’t know it was going to be like this. It’s tough.”
The sometimes unorthodox regimen Weir, and more specifically new strength and conditioning coach Tyler Stuart, have been putting the Lobos through in the offseason may have scared Simons off had Weir told him in April what all he had in store.
“He probably knew I wouldn’t come if he told me that,” Simons said with a laugh. “I’m getting better on the court and in the weight room. When I was in juco, I didn’t touch a weight. Up here, I’ve gotten stronger already. I’m loving it. He has us doing some wild stuff like pushing trucks and flipping those big tires around. It’s been a tough five or six weeks.”
Simons, one of eight new scholarship players on this year’s Lobos roster, averaged 26.3 points per game last season.
Weir said he knows better than to get to excited too early about junior college transfers. Traditionally, most aren’t acclimated to the new pace of the Division I game until December or January. But Simons’ performance in workouts the past few weeks can’t be ignored, Weir said, adding that Simons is the fastest player on the team.
“At some point about a month ago, a light went off and he has been exceptional,” Weir said. “His attitude, work ethic has been off the charts. He’s exceeded all expectations. … His adaptation to our overall culture and standards has really impressed me.”
Weir said Simons, who chose UNM over his hometown Pitt Panthers, has been a great communicator with teammates and a big help in the overall buy-in the team has shown so far.
“I cant say enough,” Weir said. “He’s been terrific.”
And, now that practice is about to officially start for the season that opens on Nov. 11, Simons said he’s as confident as ever about his game and his conditioning.
“I think I made the best decision to come to New Mexico instead of going to play at Pitt,” said Simons.
HIGH SCHOOLS: The Lobos will hold open-to-the-public practices the next three Tuesdays at area high schools: Rio Rancho High at 3 p.m. Oct. 10, La Cueva at 3 p.m. Oct. 17 and at Albuquerque High on Oct. 24 (a time for that practice has not been determined).
UNM said it hopes to go to more schools in the future, but those three were chosen this year because they are large feeders of students into the UNM student body.
CYCLONE BOUND: George Conditt IV, the 6-foot-11 forward from Chicago who was in Albuquerque this past weekend on an official recruiting visit, on Monday announced he will be playing college basketball at Iowa State.
SCRIMMAGES: The team will host an open scrimmage Thursday at Johnson Gym on UNM’s main campus at 4 p.m.
Closer to the start of the season, the Lobos will also play in two closed-to-the public scrimmages with other Division I teams instead of exhibition games this season.
The NCAA allows two public exhibition games, as UNM has done for years, two closed scrimmages or one of each.
Weir would not confirm who the two scrimmages are against, but the Journal has seen email correspondence indicating one of the two is against Denver University on Nov. 4 in Albuquerque.