TALLADEGA -- Talladega’s Kobe Simmons was voted the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A Player of the Year, the ASWA announced Saturday.
This is the second year in a row Simmons has earned the top honor in 4A. Simmons is a finalist for Mr. Basketball, which will be announced April 1.
“It means a lot. It is a huge honor,” Simmons said. “It is a huge blessing. I prayed to God for that. I’m just happy. I didn’t know what to say when I won it this year.”
Simmons is the only Talladega player in history to win this honor in consecutive years. The last athlete from Talladega County to win state Player of the Year honors in basketball was Shakayla Thomas on the girls side. The Sylacauga standout won the honor three years in a row,` 2012-2014.
“It is unreal -- two straight years 4A Player of the Year,” Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said. “It is just outstanding. It shows how great of a player that he was, with great teammates to back him for this honor. It is just hard to believe and it is well-deserved. He puts a lot of effort in basketball.”
Simmons beat out Montgomery Catholic’s Justin Bufford and UMS-Wright’s Trey Bonham for the award.
SImmons had a huge season for the Tigers. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
Simmons played a major role in leading 2019 champion Talladega back to the 4A state title game this winter.
The reigning 4A Player of the Year scored 25 points, snagged six rebounds and recorded three steals in a 4A Northeast Regional championship game victory over Anniston. Simmons was named the tournament MVP.
Simmons scored 13 and 16 points, respectively, in two Final Four games (a 64-57 victory over Montgomery Catholic in a semifinal and a 68-61 loss to Williamson in the title game).
Simmons’ game improved from last season. His scoring average increased from 16 to 19 points per game. He also saw his rebound total improve during his senior campaign.
“It was a huge target on my back,” he said after being named a finalist for the award. “I knew it was a lot of pressure on me, but I just had to keep working and playing the game that I have always played. I had to let my game do the talking.”
Simmons finished his career as the most decorated player in Talladega history.
In his three seasons on varsity, he averaged 15 points and 8.1 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.
During his varsity career, Talladega won 73 games and three regional championships, made three Final Four appearances, claimed a state championship and was a state runner-up. Overall, Talladega has made four straight trips to the Final Four.
Simmons' career at Talladega was derailed in the beginning by a knee injury, but he worked hard to help the Tigers make a historic run over the last three years.
“He missed most of his ninth-grade year; he came back with no problems or injuries, and he had a great career,” Miller said. “He didn't get cleared until our first summer league game between his ninth- and 10th-grade year. I knew after a week that he was going to be a great player.
“He was always in the right place, he hustled to the ball for the rebound, he ran the court good. His shooting was good then, but he gradually improved his range. He led us in scoring in the state semifinals against Sylacauga (in 2018). He got his confidence his 10th-grade year, and the next two years both him and the team had wonderful accomplishments.”
ASWA boys Players of the Year
7A: Colby Jones, Mountain Brook
6A: Kam Woods, Pinson Valley
5A: Reginald Perry, Fairfield
4A: Kobe Simmons, Talladega
3A: Andres Burney, Pike Co.
2A: J.D. Davison, Calhoun
1A: Tommy Murr, Lindsay Lane
AISA: Tyree Curry, Evangel Christian