Naveau column: Playing overseas an option Simpson might consider

I checked in with Xavier Simpson recently to talk about his season in the NBA’s G League and what the future might hold for him.

The former Ohio Mr. Basketball at Lima Senior, who was a three-year starter at the University of Michigan at point guard, played for the Lakeland Magic, the G League team for the Orlando Magic, this season and had his best season in that developmental league.

Simpson averaged 16.7 points and 8.8 assists a game. He shot 53 percent overall on field goals and 46.8 percent on 3-pointers.

He had played for the Oklahoma City Blue the two previous seasons in the G League and got the chance to play four games in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the end of the 2021-22 season.

“I believe this year was my best G League season,” Simpson said. “I’ve increased my percentages in every category. Not just in the G League but since my freshman year of college I’ve increased my percentages and I’ve become a more efficienct basketball player.”

Obviously, playing better this year than last year and not getting another NBA opportunity was frustrating. But Simpson said he’s not somebody who constantly studies the NBA’s transactions and injury list.

“I don’t really check. I just want to focus on where my feet are,” he said. “Obviously, everybody in the G League wants the opportunity to go to the NBA but the most important thing is to focus on where your feet are and my feet were with the Lakeland Magic in the G League.

“I would love the opportunity to play at the next level. But I just have to be the best version of myself I can be and that will carry over if I’m fortunate enough to get an opportunity at the next level.”

Simpson said he isn’t sure yet what he will do next season. But he seems to be considering playing overseas more that he has in the past.

“I don’t think I’m going to do the G League next year unless I’m on a two-way contract,” he said, referring to contract where a player competes in the G League and is also on an NBA roster but is inactive.

“After that, I’d probably pretty much go overseas if I don’t make an NBA roster. That’s my first goal – to make an NBA roster. If I don’t get it, I’ll open up the options for overseas.”

After the G League season ended, Simpson played 10 games in Puerto Rico for the Humacao Greys of the Baloncesto Superior Nacional, the top-tier pro basketball league there.

He averaged 17.4 points and 5.7 assists with a high game of 27 points in Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico was definitely a good experience,” Simpson said. “I proved I could play outside the G League. I was living at a resort. It was beautiful. It was different but what a great experience.”

Simpson will conduct a camp for young basketball players from kindergarten to freshmen in high school boys and girls Saturday at the Lima Family YMCA.

A morning session for students in grades 7 to 9 is scheduled from 10 a.m.—12:30 p.m. An afternoon session for grades K-6 is scheduled from 1-3:30 p.m. Cost is $80 per person. Registration is available at

Before I signed off on our phone conversation, I asked Simpson a college basketball question. Would he prefer the roster stability and certainty of his years at Michigan from 2016 to 2020 or would he prefer having the transfer portal and the opportunity to get name, image and likeness money?

“I like the stability. I’m not a fan of all the transferring because I was at a point in time where I thought I might need to transfer but I stuck it out and finished strong,” he said. “You have go through adversity. I’m not sure kids and people understand that now.

“But it’s hard for me to give my opinion. It’s a different game now. There’s money now. These kids are getting paid now and not just small amounts. They’re getting an amount they really could do something with.”

Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.