TALLADEGA -- Talladega’s 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 Saturday.
Simmons is seeking to earn the top honor in 4A for the second season in a row. He is also a finalist for the Mr. Basketball award for all classifications.
The award winners will be announced March 28 online. The Mr./Miss Basketball Banquet was originally set for April 7, but it was canceled due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus.
Three boys and three girls finalists were selected from each of the seven Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) classifications and the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA).
“This is a huge accomplishment for me,” Simmons said. “I worked on my game all season and in the offseason. I also put in more work in the weight room. It is a blessing to be a finalist for Player of the Year for the second straight season.”
Montgomery Catholic’s Justin Bufford and UMS-Wright’s Trey Bonham join Simmons as 4A Player of the Year finalists.
Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Tigers.
Simmons played a major role in leading Talladega back to the 4A state championship game. 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.
The 6-foot-4 guard 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).
“We tried our best to win a ring again, but we just came up short,” Simmons said. “We had a great year. I am surprised to be a finalist for 4A Player of the Year. I would not be able to accomplish any of this without my teammates and my coaches. I am thankful for them and thankful for this.”
Simmons and the Tigers handled the pressure that comes with being defending state champions.
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. “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.
“It is not just me, it is my team,” Simmons said. “They are making history, too. This is something I knew that I could do. I am grateful to God … This is just a huge blessing. I can’t thank God enough for this.”
Talladega head coach Chucky Miller said Simmons is deserving of this honor.
“He is a great person. He has a great work ethic,” Miller said. “He comes to play every game. He is focused on his game. He led us to a lot of victories in these three years … He is going to go down as one of the great players in Talladega basketball history.”