He arrived as possibly the most anticipated player in Lima in a decade or more. He leaves as one of its most acclaimed players.
Lima Senior’s Xavier Simpson has been a leader in many ways in his four years of high school basketball.
Add one more item to the list of ways he has led. For a second year in a row the senior point guard is the Player of the Year on The Lima News’ boys basketball Dream Team.
The University of Michigan recruit led Lima Senior to a Division I state runner-up finish and became the fourth athlete from Lima to be named Ohio Mr. Basketball this year.
He joined Greg Simpson (1991, 1992), Aaron Hutchins (1994) and Jamar Butler (2004) on the list of Mr. Basketball winners.
He was first-team All-Ohio twice and was the Division I Player of the Year the last two seasons.
Lima Central Catholic’s Division III state champion team has two players on the Dream Team – Dantez Walton and Tre Cobbs. Both were first-team All-Ohio when the Thunderbirds won their second state championship in the last three seasons.
Perry’s Jakoby Lane-Harvey, the Northwest Central Conference Player of the Year, Crestview’s Connor Lautzenheiser, the Northwest Conference Player of the Year, and Leipsic’s Jordan Brown, the Putnam County League Player of the Year, also were named to the team.
Shawnee’s Jaden O’Neal, Lima Senior’s Rico Stafford, Delphos Jefferson’s Trey Smith, an Air Force recruit, and Lincolnview’s Chandler Adams complete the 10-player Dream Team.
LCC coach Frank Kill is the Coach of the Year. LCC defeated Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 66-44 in the state championship when those two teams matched up in the Division III title game for the third year in a row.
This season, Simpson averaged 26.3 points, 6.6 assists and 3.9 steals a game. He finished his career with 1,986 points, including 688 points at Lima Central Catholic, where he played as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Lima Senior after his dad, Quincey Simpson, was hired as the Spartans head coach.
He signed with Michigan in November and also had offers from Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Xavier and other prominent programs.
After one of the Spartans’ tournament wins this season, Simpson said, “It’s really not about me, it’s about my team.”
By that standard, Simpson was a huge success. His teams won 100 of the 112 games he played in high school.
LCC was Division III state champion his sophomore season and was a regional semifinalist his freshman year. Lima Senior set a school record with 29 wins, was state runner-up this season and was regional runner-up last season.
Simpson describes himself as “a pass first point guard.”
“If I don’t score, I can find other ways to win,” he said.
But the pass-first point guard also has the two highest-scoring games in the history of Lima boys basketball, both of them this season.
He broke Greg Simpson’s city record of 57 points when he scored 59 points against Fremont Ross on Dec. 15. Then, when the Little Giants came to Lima on Feb. 2, he broke the record again when he scored 65 points.
“You try picking your poison. He can hurt you so many different ways,” Fremont Ross coach Mark Gedeon told the Fremont News Messenger after the game in December.
It all started in high school when he scored seven points for LCC in a double-overtime 68-63 loss to Elida in the 2012 Tip-Off Classic on a night when the Bulldogs’ Dakota Mathias scored 42 points.
Now it’s on to the next level, where he is expected to back up returning senior starter Derrick Walton at point guard for Michigan. Simpson will be the only scholarship point guard other than Walton on the Wolverines roster next season.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.