Pac-10 honors Simmons for defensive play
After USC‚Äôs astonishing 62-46 win over Arizona State on Feb. 26, USC coach Kevin O‚ÄôNeill closed his post-game press conference with a short message for the rest of the Pac-10: ‚ÄúIf Marcus Simmons isn‚Äôt the defense player of the year for the conference, I don‚Äôt know who is.‚ÄĚ
O‚ÄôNeill‚Äôs statement was heard loud and clear as Simmons was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year by the conference‚Äôs coaches Monday.
Junior forward Nikola Vucevic was also named to the All-Pac-10 first team.
‚ÄúI am really fired up for those guys,‚ÄĚ O‚ÄôNeill said. ‚ÄúThey both deserve it. Without those two guys, we would not be anywhere, so I am glad that they both got rewarded.‚ÄĚ
From shutting down Kansas‚Äô Tyshawn Taylor, Washington‚Äôs Isaiah Thomas to Washington State‚Äôs Klay Thompson and everyone in between this year, Simmons has been the glue for a Trojans team leading the conference in scoring defense, allowing only 62.9 points per game.
Although his statistics (0.3 blocks and 0.7 steals per game) don‚Äôt jump off the page, Simmons‚Äô flexibility at defensive end has allowed O‚ÄôNeill to stick the senior on the opposing team‚Äôs top player regardless of his size advantage.
Simmons is the first USC player to win the award since forward Taj Gibson claimed the honor following his junior season in 2009.