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Jul. 10—Here's Xavier Simpson in four words: Competitive and never complacent.
His fiery drive in pursuit of basketball perfection surfaced recently when he was asked if he was satisfied with how he played in the NBA G-League earlier this year.
"No, I wasn't satisfied. I'm never satisfied," Simpson said. "I'm grateful for the start I had. I believe it was a pretty good start but there's always room for improvement."
The goal of that search for improvement is a spot on an NBA roster.
Pursuing that goal took Simpson to Germany briefly last fall and then to the G-League in Orlando, Fla., to play in the same "bubble" where NBA teams played.
The Lima Senior graduate averaged 9.8 points, 6.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Oklahoma City Blue, the affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the G-League.
Simpson scored 1,986 points in his high school career and was Ohio's Mr. Basketball in 2016 when Lima Senior was Division I state runner-up. He also played a key role in Lima Central Catholic's 2014 Division III state championship before transferring to Lima Senior after his sophomore year.
He was a three-year starter at point guard at Michigan and finished his college career with 1,073 points and 667 assists, which ranks No. 2 all-time at Michigan behind Gary Grant.
As a senior in the 2019-20 season, he averaged 12.9 points and 7.9 assists per game, which is the Michigan record for most assists per game in a season.
Last year, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lakers before their training camp but did not get any playing time in the preseason before being released.
He signed to play for a team in Germany and traveled to that country. But when his team's season opener was pushed back several times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he returned to the United States without playing a game and was picked No. 7 overall by Oklahoma City in the G-League draft.
"It was nice playing in the bubble. I was just grateful for the opportunity. You couldn't do too much but at the same time we knew what we were getting into when we signed up for it. And we were there just to play basketball anyway," Simpson said.
The latest next step for Simpson will be playing for the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team in the Las Vegas Summer League and in the California Summer League Classic, in which the four NBA teams in California compete against each other, in August.
But first he will conduct a youth basketball camp at Lima Senior High School on July 17.
The camp is for boys and girls in grades kindergarten to freshmen in high school. A morning session for grades K-5 is scheduled from 9 a.m.-noon and an afternoon session for grades 6-9 will run from 1-4 p.m. The cost is $70. Online registration is available at xaviersimpsonbasketball.com.
Simpson remembers the days when he was going to basketball camps to learn from former college and professional players like Travis Walton and Jamar Butler.
"Just being in their presence, being there with them and hearing them speak and getting advice from them inspired me. And I hoped one day I would have the opportunity to do the same," Simpson said about his days of attending camps.
"I'm pretty much trying to do what I can to just be an inspiration to all the kids, especially back in my hometown and have those kids have the opportunity not to see me just on TV or playing basketball professionally but also have a chance to talk to me and be able to ask me questions," he said.
Simpson has spent most of his summer in Lima and Michigan and has been in Atlanta. He also is playing in the Kingdom Summer League in Columbus, which is a league in which many of the players are professionals and current or former college players.
He believes his best route to the NBA currently is to stay in the United States.
"I think the best option for me right now is to stay in the U.S., with the opportunity to be in the summer league and maybe have another opportunity to have a chance to be in training camp. Obviously, if that doesn't work out another option in Europe or elsewhere would be a better option. That's when I would proceed forward with that," he said.