Jennie Simms didn't consider Old Dominion as a high school senior.
The second time around -- as an unhappy freshman at West Virginia University -- it was almost a no-brainer. She visited Georgia Tech and Wake Forest with plans to take additional trips to Providence and Temple. But after connecting with ODU coach Karen Barefoot, she will be a Lady Monarch.
"Coach Karen Barefoot -- I have trust in her," Simms said. "They're going into a new conference (C-USA), and I knew we could make great things happen together."
Needless to say, Simms is quite the catch. The 6-foot Simms was a four-star recruit, ranked 88th nationally by ESPN two years ago and she was MVP of the ESPN High School Invitational game in 2012. The Riverdale Baptist High senior signed with West Virginia -- same school that is home to Linda Stepney and Crystal Leary -- integral players from Norfolk's Lake Taylor High School state title game. (FYI: former Lady Monarch Vicki Collier was also a Riverdale Baptist grad.)
Stepney and Leary shared with LadySwish how difficult an adjustment they went through initially in Morgantown. They remain on the team, but Simms left after eight games, averaging 3.1 ppg and 1.6 rpg. She continued to attend classes for the spring semester.
"It was a huge adjustment with the culture shock and the weather," says Simms of Accokeek, Md. "One time you come outside and it's hot, and the next day, it'll be snowing outside. I wasn't happy and I felt like the love of the game was getting taken away from me. I knew I wanted to go to the next level, and I knew I wanted to continue to play. I wanted to play for a coach who had the same mindset and dreams as I have."
Simms thinks ODU will be a better fit, and she's spent some time in Hampton Roads as part of Boo Williams' AAU team. She is the most highly touted player to join the Lady Monarchs since Jazzmin Walters in 2005. Walters, whose memorable 3-pointer sent ODU into the Sweet 16 her junior year, was ranked 87th among high school seniors by the Blue Star report.
Simms, who plans to study special education and child development, will not be eligible until the 2014-15 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Sitting out, she said, "is going to motivate me more. I'll be able to see the next conference and visualize what the team has and what what I can do to help to contribute to the team."
ODU was the lone Virginia school Simms considered when transferring. Her father, Darrick, played for the University of Virginia from 1985-88, and Jennie says he is her biggest influence.
"He pushes me," she says. "He's the one telling me the things I don't want to hear."
Most often it's this message: "Shoot the ball!"
"I'll pass before I shoot," Simms says.
Dad also has a deal with Jennie. The two play one-on-one all the time; she has never beaten him.
"He told me if I beat him I'll get $500. One time I got him to nine playing till 11. I get close, but he still plays the exact same way as when he was in school."