LIMA — Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson has been named Mr. Basketball by the Associated Press, honoring him as the best boys high school player in Ohio in 2016.
The 6-foot point guard, who has signed with the University of Michigan, is the fourth Lima player to win the award, following Lima Senior’s Greg Simpson (1991, 1992), Lima Central Catholic’s Aaron Hutchins (1994) and Shawnee’s Jamar Butler (2004).
Simpson is averaging 27.2 points, 6.6 assists, 3.9 steals and 3.9 rebounds a game for No. 2-ranked Lima Senior (28-0), which will play No. 3 Wilmington (27-1) in a Division I state tournament semifinal game on Friday.
He learned he’d won the award at a team dinner on Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s probably just sinking in right now,” Simpson said. “I’m just astonished I’m in this position now. I always wanted to have this award, but I never thought it would actually come true one day,” he said.
“This year, I made it one of my individual goals. I left it in God’s hands. I worked on it, I prayed on it and I got it.”
Lima Senior coach Quincey Simpson said Xavier has aimed for this award since he started playing high school basketball.
“I know it was a goal for him, going back to ninth grade. I remember him telling me that he wanted to be Mr. Basketball. I was thinking, ‘Well, you’ve got some tough competition,’ ” he said about his son.
“But I’ve watched him work, I’ve watched him grow and I’ve watched him mature. This award has definitely been earned. He has invested the time to receive this award,” he said.
Xavier Simpson has scored 1,946 points in his career, including 688 points at Lima Central Catholic, where he played as a freshman and sophomore. He broke the Lima Senior single-game scoring record twice this season, scoring 59 points and then 65 points, both against Fremont Ross.
The other finalists for the Mr. Basketball award were John Teske (Medina), who also has signed with Michigan; Jarron Cumberland (Wilmington), who has signed with Cincinnati; Seth Towns (Columbus Northland), who will play for Harvard; Drew Rackley (New Concord John Glenn), who has signed with VMI; and Cleveland East Tech junior Markell Johnson.
Simpson was also Division I Player of the Year on the All-Ohio team and Quincey Simpson shared Coach of the Year honors with Jacob Daniel of Columbus St. Charles. The Spartans’ Marquevious Wilson received honorable mention.
After transferring to Lima Senior before last season when Quincey Simpson became the Spartans head coach, Xavier Simpson averaged 18.3 points, 5.8 assists and 3.0 steals a game on a regional runner-up team. He was first-team All-Ohio and Division I Co-Player of the Year.
As a sophomore at Lima Central Catholic, he averaged 18.4 points a game on the Thunderbirds’ 2014 Division III state champion team. He scored 18 points, including 16 in the second half, when LCC won 64-62 over Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph in the title game.
His teams have a 99-10 record in his four years in high school.
“I’m most proud of winning. I’m not just doing things for myself and breaking records. I’m doing things for Lima Senior,” Xavier Simpson said.
When Simpson signed with Michigan in November he also had offers from Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Xavier and other top programs. ESPN.com ranks him as the No. 45 player nationally in the senior class.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.