Georgetown graduate Henry Sims stood in the dimly lit Verizon Center hallway a couple of hundred feet from his old locker room. He’s lived in the Washington-Baltimore area all his life, and when the NBA draft concludes Thursday night, he hopes it stays that way.
The 6-foot-10, 245-pound center was one of four players to work out for the Wizards last Thursday and could be a possibility for Washington at pick No. 32. Sims also starred at Mount St. Joseph High School in western Baltimore and said the DMV is all he’s ever known.
“A lot of memories. Especially when I saw that down there,” he said, gesturing to the locker room. “That was a lot of memories. It’s good to be back.”
Most mock drafts have Sims as a mid-to-late second-round selection. Yet in his first three years at Georgetown, he looked like anything but. He was overshadowed by classmate Greg Monroe and averaged just 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. Sims wasn’t focused and didn’t care.
The light bulb came on last summer. Sims spent extra time at home in Baltimore, working out and receiving words of encouragement from his mother, Brenda. He put in the offseason work and watched his production grow across the board.
“I think he realized that the end was near in terms of his days at Georgetown,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said in March. “I think his focus, attention to detail and his work ethic were much better this year, and he has seen the results.”
Sims finally played to his potential and had a breakout senior season. He was a third-team All-Big East selection while averaging 11.6 points and 6 rebounds. He also emerged as one of the best passing big men in the country and led the Hoyas in assists in 21 of their 33 contests.
Sims‘ passing ability will be a strong selling point to NBA teams. His 7-foot-4 wingspan and defensive presence around the basket will be others. But after spending four years in a Princeton-style offense that always asked him to make the right pass, Sims wants teams to know that he can create his own offense, too.
In every aspect of his game, the differences between his first three seasons and his last are night and day.
“I transformed, my mind transformed, and I’m able to [focus] without a problem now,” Sims said. “I enjoy putting in the hard work. That’s one of the best parts about this game: You can get better every day.”
Sims has taken his new work ethic with him to predraft workouts. He said he had worked out with roughly 13 teams as of Thursday and still had three of four left on his schedule.
It’s enough to drive anybody to the brink of exhaustion, but Sims said his body is holding up well.
He even joked that with all this travel, he should have three or four free flights by now.
“It’s a blessing to be here — a lot of people want to be here,” Sims said. “As tiring as it is, you got to take it in stride and be happy and be proud of it.”
Sims has no idea where he’ll wind up in Thursday night’s draft. When asked to guess his destination, he said, “I’m not asking.” Yet after four years at Georgetown, he’s most comfortable in the DMV area — and on the Verizon Center hardwood — that he has long called home.
“Definitely I would like [playing here],” he said. “The rims haven’t changed, I don’t think.”