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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Will Josh Pastner Allow Matt Simpkins to Return?

Will Josh Pastner Allow Matt Simpkins to Return?

A reader brought up this interesting question that The Commercial Appeal's Dan Wolken also touched on slightly last Wednesday (Memphis Tigers recruit Xavier Henry will sign with Kansas; what else will happen?). Can Matt Simpkins come back to Memphis and, more importantly, will Josh Pastner allow Simpkins to return.

As best I can remember, Cal dismissed Simpkins for breaking team rules either on the Dallas trip to play SMU this season or just before that game. I definitely remember he did not take the trip to Spokane for the Gonzaga game which came after the team stayed in Dallas following the SMU game(to save some money).

Simpkins' work ethic was called into question by pundits and fans together. It is no shock that Cal wouldn't put up with poor effort in practice or off the court. When your running a top program, your not going to let a #8 or #9 (Freshman) player cause problems (Cal's reaction most assuredly would have been different if this behavior had come from (Freshman) Tyreke Evans, your #1 player).

Based on everything I've read or heard about Josh Pastner - he lives and breaths work ethic. I expect Josh will expect his players to show much of the same effort and passion that he does personally. If Josh doesn't see Simpkins putting forth this type of effort in life or on the court, I suspect we won't see him back.

Memphis fans should look at Simpkins as another recruit - a top 100 recruit coming out of the Patterson (NC) school in the class of 2008.

The following were comments on Simpkins from's Jerry Meyer after Memphis had signed him a year ago.

"There is no doubt that Simpkins has the athleticism that Memphis values. The question, though, is whether or not he has the ball skills to make an immediate impact at Memphis," Meyer said. "The Memphis offense is predicated on everyone but the center being able to put the ball on the floor and make plays. I have doubts that Simpkins is ready for this role. He does give Memphis an athletic player who can go get the ball, however."

What Simpkins lacks in skill, Angel Garcia picks up the slack, Meyer says. The Puerto Rico native is 6 feet 10 and has a game that is best suited for the perimeter.

"Garcia brings the ball skills to fit in with the Memphis offense," Meyer said. "He is good with the ball and can shoot it. If he builds his body up, he could do a lot of the things at the four that Dozier does for Memphis and is a better long range shooter than Robert Dozier. Garcia's challenge is whether or not he can defend and rebound at the level Memphis expects."

Meyer said he doesn't anticipate either freshman to make a big enough impact to help the Tigers return to the big stage next year. The two man class's impact will be felt down the road. "Simpkins gives them more rebounding and defending-wise. Garcia gives Memphis more of what it wants on the offensive side of the ball. Whichever one improves his weaknesses the most has the best chance to have an impact," Meyer said. "In the end, though, I expect it to be later in the year or maybe not until they are sophomores before they are really ready."


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