Following an early exit in the WNIT and sporting one of the youngest rosters in the country, Arizona State is poised to come back stronger and smarter in 2021-22. The Sun Devils were second-to-last in the Pac-12 in points per game, 3-point percentage, and field goals made during their most recent campaign, but the squad still managed a .500 season.
In order to get back to the top-half of the most competitive conference in the country, the term “sophomore slump” should not be in the vocabulary of guard Jaddan Simmons. As a 5-foot-9 freshman, she was one of two players to start all 24 games for ASU last season. Simmons led the Sun Devils in assists (2.7 per game) and was second on the team in scoring (10.8 per game).
Being the primary facilitator on offense can be difficult for any freshman point guard, but Simmons showed growth and unwavering confidence in every game that provides optimism for her potential. The off-season additions of multiple graduate transfers (like Jade Loville who averaged 17.1 points per game at Boise State) should also give Simmons some more scoring options on offense.
According to Synergy Sports, Simmons was ranked in the 90th percentile when running the pick-and-roll as the primary ball handler (averaging .923 points per possession). With an improved three-point jumper (she shot 17.7 percent last year) and more offensive weapons at her disposal, it should be extremely hard for opposing defenses to pick how they want to stop the Sun Devils.
Playing just over 30 minutes per game enabled Simmons to play in a lot of high-leverage games and situations, especially in crunch time. There were multiple instances where the Green Bay native would knock down huge free throws or make the defensive stop like this one in their win against Colorado.
Devil Defense— Sun Devil WBB (@SunDevilWBB) January 23, 2021
How the final min went down ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/K9STiW4gPg
Everything is lining for a big leap in year two from Jaddan Simmons. If she continues her game-to-game growth and limits her turnovers, Arizona State should be in store for a very successful season.