'Putting in work'

Talladega junior Kobe Simmons is one of three finalists for the Class 4A Player of the Year award.

Kobe Simmons is one of three finalists for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A Player of the Year award.

The list of finalists was released Tuesday.

Simmons is also a finalist for the Mr. Basketball award for all classifications. The award winners will be announced at the annual Player of the Year Banquet on March 26 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel.

Three boys and three girls finalists were selected from each of the seven AHSAA classifications and the AISA.

“I am real shocked,” Simmons said. “I didn’t expect anything like this. All season, I have been putting in work … I have been shooting around, trying to get my shot right, and I worked hard to get my post move right. It is a great honor to be a finalist for Player of the Year. It is real special.”

Simmons had a stellar season for the Class 4A champions. The 6-foot-4 forward earned first-team all-state honors and averaged 16.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Simmons played his best basketball during the postseason. He recorded 28 points and 12 rebounds against DAR in the Sweet 16. In the Northeast Regional final, he scored 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds against Anniston to earn MVP honors.

“It was really a team effort, for real,” Simmons said. “I knew I had to make big plays to get my team going and make sure we got to the state championship to get past that hump in the Final Four.”

For head coach Chucky Miller, this is also an accomplishment for him and the boys basketball program.

“This is my first one in the top three in 19 years,” Miller said. “We’ve had some great players, but we have never received this honor. This is a great honor.”

Miller lauded the way Simmons made an impact on the game every time the Tigers stepped on the court.

“Kobe led us all season,”Miller said. “He comes to play every night. You can count on him for scoring, rebounds and assists. He intimidates people with his size inside, where they have to shoot over him. I am just so happy for Kobe.”

Simmons said he has enjoyed celebrating Talladega’s first basketball championship over the past week.

“It has been the best thing in the world for me, Coach Miller, my dad and everybody in Talladega, for real,” he said.

Simmons said he thinks he is deserving of being 4A Player of the Year.

“I have been putting in the work all season,” Simmons said. “Nobody could stop me. I kept getting double-doubles. I did everything that I could to get my team get to the playoffs and to the state championship.”