LMU's Gerel Simmons Named All-American
EDINBORO, Pa. -- Lincoln Memorial University senior guard Gerel Simmons (pictured) has been named to the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) All-American third team, it was announced by CCA officials on Monday, March 21. Simmons becomes the fourth All-American of the Josh Schertz era, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Lorenza Ross, Vincent Bailey and Desmond Johnson.
A native of Accokeek, Maryland, Simmons -- a 6-2 transfer from Brevard College -- has played a starring role in what has almost certainly been the most successful season in the over 100-year history of the LMU men's basketball program. Behind Simmons and his cohorts, the No. 1 nationally-ranked Railsplitters (32-2) won their fourth straight South Atlantic Conference regular-season title, claimed their third SAC tournament title in six years, and punched the program's first-ever ticket to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight by winning the Southeast Regional last Tuesday at Tex Turner Arena. The Railsplitters enter Wednesday's Elite Eight matchup against 17th-ranked Barry, set for a 1 p.m. (ET) tip-off at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas, having already broken both the program and SAC record for wins in a season. Lincoln Memorial has not lost since January 2, matching the program and league record with a 22-game winning streak. Simmons has started all 34 games for Lincoln Memorial this season, leading the team in scoring with 20.6 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field and a gaudy 48.4 percent mark (78-for-161) from three-point range. The Accokeek, Md. native couples that with 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting nearly 82 percent from the charity stripe. Simmons has racked up 701 total points this season, which are the 14th-most in the country and the seventh-most in LMU's single-season history. An All-SAC and CCA All-Southeast Region first team selection, Simmons has surpassed the 20-point threshold in 18 of his 34 appearances thus far, including four 30-point outbursts. Simmons scored a career-high 37 points on 13-of-21 shooting in the SAC opener against Carson-Newman on November 24. He would later add 31 points on a ridiculous 11-for-13 mark from the field at Mars Hill on January 6, which kick-started the Railsplitters' current 22-game winning streak. Simmons hit the 30-point plateau in back-to-back games in mid-February, scoring 34 at Tusculum and 32 against Newberry to receive his second AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week distinction of the season. Simmons was named to both the SAC Championship and NCAA Division II Southeast Regional All-Tournament teams after scoring at least 15 points in all six of the Railsplitters' postseason games. He scored 27 in the SAC tournament opener against Tusculum and poured in a game-high 25 points to lead Lincoln Memorial past No. 22 Queens and into the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history on March 13. Though his career at Lincoln Memorial has only spanned two seasons, Simmons will certainly be remembered as one of the most accomplished players to ever wear the Blue and Gray. In that milestone win over Queens, Simmons became the 27th player in program history to join the 1,000-point club at LMU, as he enters the Elite Eight with 1,048 career points with the Railsplitters. He is the program's all-time leader in career three-point percentage with a 46.4 percent mark, while he ranks ninth in total three-pointers made with 129. During his two-year tenure in Harrogate, the Railsplitters have won two SAC regular-season championships and compiled a 62-5 overall record. Simmons was one of six players named as a CCA All-American whose teams will be competing in this week's Elite Eight. West Liberty's Seger Bonifant and Augustana's Danile Jansen were both named to the first team, while Barry's Yunio Barrueta was a second team selection. Western Oregon's Andy Avgi and Augustana's Casey Schilling joined Simmons on the third team. The Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-America Men's Basketball Team is sponsored by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association. The Division II Conference Commissioners Association encourages and promotes Division II athletics and high standards of sportsmanship as important elements of higher education. The CCA is a key communications link among the conferences as they discuss views, policies and regulations that impact Division II intercollegiate athletics and works closely with the NCAA as a communications channel to NCAA Division II member colleges and universities. 2015-16 Division II Conference Commissioners Association (CCA) Men's Basketball All-American Teams First Team Ryan Stephan, Colorado Mesa (Ron Lenz National Player of the Year) Seger Bonifant, West Liberty Taevaunn Prince, Missouri Southern State Daniel Jansen, Augustana (S.D.) Devin Schmidt, Delta State Second Team Yunio Barrueta, Barry Keenan Palmore, Lenoir-Rhyne Kyle Cooper, Hillsdale Desmond Williams, Southern Conn. State Tyree Gaiter, Notre Dame College Third Team Conner Beranek, Nebraska Kearney Andy Avgi, Western Oregon Gerel Simmons, Lincoln Memorial Casey Schilling, Augustana (S.D.) Sekou "Suki" Wiggs, Alaska Anchorage Honorable Mention Justin Pitts, Northern Missouri State Michael Smith, California Baptist John Moon, Oklahoma Christian Terrell Harris, Georgia College Eric Siefert, Wheeling Jesuit
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught