Rebels fans should already be familiar with the newest member of the UNLV coaching staff, as Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon is set to join the program sometime within the week.
Simon has been a key presence in the Las Vegas area for almost a decade. He formerly served as a video coordinator at UNLV under Lon Kruger from 2004-06 before leaving to become Findlay?s top assistant when the school opened in 2006. Last year, he was named the school?s head coach when Mike Peck left to take over an NBA D-League team.
Simon has been a staggering success at Findlay, not just as head coach ? he led the Pilots to a 35-1 record last season ? but also as a recruiter and teacher during his years as an assistant. Findlay has fielded extremely deep and talented squads, but Simon has shown an ability to get elite players to buy in to his system and play within a team structure.
That skill, along with his standing relationship with Dave Rice, had to be appealing when UNLV began looking for a replacement for former assistant coach Justin Hutson.
With Simon?s hiring appearing imminent, here are some key notes to keep in mind:
Simon coached a fast-break attack at Findlay Prep, with lots of trapping, full-court defense and open-court offense. He has an idea of how to take explosive athletes and utilize them to apply pressure on the opponent. That?s something Dave Rice preaches, and something he has repeatedly said he wants to do more of in the future. With Simon on staff, it should help the Rebels take advantage of all the rangy athletes on the roster this season. So in that sense, Simon was a good fit for the UNLV system.
UNLV is on a roll when it comes to recruiting, and Simon should only help in that regard. After all, before Rice recruited Bennett to UNLV, Simon helped recruit him to Findlay Prep. Simon is as well connected as a coach can be in the prep world, and he knows how to attract elite, NBA-caliber talent. For example, before he took the UNLV job, Simon was in the process of recruiting Rashad Vaughn (the No. 7 player in the Class of 2014) to Findlay for his senior year. He?s a ?swing for the fences? recruiter who won?t be afraid to go after the nation?s top players, which fits into what the current UNLV staff wants to do. Findlay has produced five NBA players and six McDonald?s All-Americans with Simon on staff. Look for him to hit the recruiting trail right away.
Anthony Bennett is gone, but there will still be a Findlay Prep connection on the UNLV roster this season. Incoming freshman (and Findlay grad) Chris Wood is a big part of the Rebels? future plans, and no one knows Wood better than Simon. He coached Wood for two years in high school and understands his strengths and weaknesses. Having Simon on staff at UNLV could help ease Wood?s transition to the college game and get him contributing quicker than maybe he would have otherwise. Consider that a bonus.