LIMA — For Xavier Simpson, being coached by his father isn’t anything new.
Growing up, his father, Quincy, was always right by his side, helping him hone his basketball skills.
After Simpson helped lead Lima Central Catholic to the Division III state championship last season, his father was hired as the boys basketball coach at Lima Senior.
So, when the opportunity arose to play for his father, Xavier jumped all over it and transferred to Lima Senior.
The result was one of the best seasons in the history of boys basketball at Lima Senior.
Simpson, a 6-foot junior, led the Spartans to the fourth-best record in school history (23-4) and was named the Division I state co-player of the year, along with Shaker Heights’ Esa Ahmad. Simpson also was named first team all-state.
Other accolades for Simpson included: Division I player of the year in the northwest district and first team all-Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
With all the success this past season, Simpson was named The Lima News Dream Team player of the year.
Lima Central Catholic coach Frank Kill, who guided his team to the state championship game, was named the coach of the year.
This season Lima Senior made it all the way to the regional championship game, where it was knocked off by Lakewood St. Edward, 50-42.
All season, Simpson ran the Lima Senior offense out front, using his quickness off the dribble to create scoring opportunities for both him and his teammates.
Simpson averaged 19.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
Xavier said losing in the regional finals was tough, especially since the team had high expectations.
“We didn’t get the results that we wanted,” Xavier said. “But it was a good season, as I look back on it. I got to play back where my family is and where I was raised. It was good to come home and play for my dad and with the kids I grew up with.”
Quincy said his son has worked really hard in advancing his game to the next level.
“I’ve been amazed here recently, because of the time he has invested outside of what is required,” Quincy said. “With him getting up at 5 in the morning and pushing me to get up at 5 in the morning to come and train him. …He’s easily motivated. And I think a lot of that (credit) has to go toward Travis Walton (former Lima Senior and Michigan State standout), for him continually telling him that if you’re not going to motivate yourself, then you’re probably not going to go to the highest level. So, he understands that.”
For Quincy, being both father and coach to Xavier wasn’t easy, especially early on.
“When he was young, he would always tell his mom that I never said anything positive,” Quincy said. “So, I had to step away and understand that as a father I needed to emphasize the things he does good, but I still need to let him know about the things he needs to do to get better. So, I knew I needed to have that balance.”
This past season, Xavier quickly noticed some distinct differences between playing basketball at the Division I level, compared with Division III.
“It was exciting, going from a Division III school to a Division I school,” Xavier said. “Some people had big expectations for me. So, I took it as far as I could.
“I really didn’t change my style. I knew going from Division III to Division I that it was going to be harder. ….There was better competition. There’s a big difference in the physicality. I knew that some of my little mistakes I made at LCC weren’t going to slide in Division I.”
Xavier said he wants to contribute in any way possible to help his team reach its goals.
“What makes the game most exciting for me is having the ball in my hands,” Xavier said. “I like when Coach gives me the ball and tells me to lead the team as far as possible. …That’s what is exciting for me – being able to control my team, helping my team get to the next level. Whether it’s scoring or making assists, I just want to help my team win.”
With all the notoriety Xavier has received, there are many Division I colleges taking notice. Some of the colleges mentioned to be in the hunt include Illinois, Xavier, Michigan State, Purdue and Dayton.
“Right now he doesn’t have any favorites,” Quincy said. “He likes all the schools that are recruiting him.
“So, I think this summer, we’ll sit down and narrow it down. But, we’re going to do the process, probably early November. We want to get it done and over with so he can have a smooth senior season.”