North Texas Daily

COLUMN: Zach Simmons’ successor is here and he’s just getting started

COLUMN: Zach Simmons’ successor is here and he’s just getting started

COLUMN: Zach Simmons’ successor is here and he’s just getting started
February 11
13:00 2021

Senior forward Zachary Simmons has been a key part of the North Texas men’s basketball team since his debut in 2017. The 6-foot-10-inch big man from Abilene has been one of the most consistent forwards in Conference USA for the past three years now and has really made a name for himself here in Denton. The Mean Green have used Simmons in practically every game possible, and with him graduating this year, his presence is most certainly going to be missed. North Texas will have to fill his shoes when he leaves with another big man — and they may already have his replacement.

Freshman forward Abou Ousmane has intrigued Mean Green fans since the day he arrived in Denton. The center played a big role in his high school team’s success, leading the Scotland Performance Institute Knights to a 40-4 season while averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Coming out of high school, Ousmane was an unranked player with numerous offers from universities of all different tiers. He received offers from Old Dominion University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Toledo, Georgetown University and even Texas A&M. However, Ousmane committed to Rhode Island on March 27, 2020, only to de-commit and reopen his recruiting all within a week. He then committed to the Mean Green on April 10, and eventually enrolled at North Texas almost four months later.

In just 12 games played so far this season for the Mean Green, Ousmane has already flashed the potential of what is to come.

Coming off the bench, he is averaging over 60 percent from the field, close to Simmons’ 66 percent. While the two automatically draw comparisons due to their measurables of height and weight, Ousmane — just like Simmons, fits well into the Mean Green offense, which relies heavily on its ball possession down low. 

Ousmane shows flashes of his Simmons — like potential in the paint when he going one-on-one against his opposition. He makes good use of his 6-foot-10-inch, 250-pound frame and has so far seen success in the low post.

His rookie season is not shaping up to be exactly like Zach Simmons’ though. Simmons made an immediate impact with North Texas, starting in 29 out of the 37 games he played in, averaging 6.5 points and more than 5 rebounds per game.

Although Ousmane’s starting off his collegiate career coming off the bench, he has the potential to fill the hole Simmons will leave after this season. He has the measurables and the skillset to match Simmons’ role, and sitting behind him throughout his freshman year will most certainly have an impact on his development.

Head coach Grant McCasland and the Mean Green recruited Abou Ousmane with high hopes for him. They looked to replace former big man Deng Geu and anticipated the departure of Zach Simmons at the end of this season. Although Ousmane’s path to success may be different than his soon-to-be predecessor, he can most definitely be the new big center the Mean Green can rely on game in and game out. For now, Abou Ousmane complements Zachary Simmons nicely, but he will make for a fine replacement for the next three years.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Milo Mihaltses

Milo Mihaltses

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