And now the shoe is on the other foot as Blue Ridge is in the cycle of developing talent. Much excitement surrounds the Barons with the addition of Richard Amaefule, a 6-foot-8 freshman from London, England. He provides depth in the paint along with sophomore Jaden Frazier and junior Babacar Diagne. The opportunity for those younger talents to learn from Simms is obvious. Things have come full-circle for Simms. Where it was him learning from Diakite when he was a sophomore, the Clemson-bound Simms is now the one helping a group of underclassmen round out their game through hard practices. “I feel like as long as we keep going hard in games, practicing hard, we can have the deepest bench in the state once again,” Simms said. Of course, as a senior, much is expected of Simms as a leader. He’s an excitable personality on the floor so expect the pieces to fall perfectly into place in that department. An unselfish player, Simms is as animated when he’s catching his breath on the bench as he is after he finishes off a fast break dunk. That unselfish culture is one that Lemcke has been able to create by distributing so many minutes to so many different players. Of course, the flip side to that coin is that those minutes are taxing, require outstanding conditioning and mental toughness. With so many young players, it will be up to Simms to help bring his teammates along on what it takes to get to the postseason and be effective as he’s seen and experienced what that means these last two years. ✖
austin katstra ALBEMARLE, SR. THAT COLLECTIVE GROAN across the Jefferson District is opposing coaches trying to find a gameplan to contain Albemarle’s versatile big man. If it feels like Katstra has been playing forever, it’s because he has, he’s a 4-year starter that’s been at the center of the Patriots’ rise over these last few seasons. Albemarle was done being the young project last year. And while the loss of a handful of key senior role players like Myles Adams-Yates, Kennedy Brown and Grant Kersey presents a new challenge, the fact that this team made it to the Group 5A final four last year puts the Patriots front and center as the team to beat and the program everyone is itching to try and beat. Last year was an odd one for Katstra as he was nicked up in December and the team turned to Jake Hahn to shoulder the scoring load. When Katstra returned, it took a while for Albemarle develop the chemistry it had initially intended to back in December. However, come late February and March, the Patriots got hot and stayed that way. Katstra finished the
we are going with a bit of a different .. strategy on offense.