His teammates kept feeding the ball to him beyond the three-point line, and Patrick Simon kept making the shots.
But sometime during a magical first half, when he made 9 of 10 three-point attempts, he was hit with something he hadn’t planned.
“I like to give a little celebration after making a three now and then, but I started running out of them,” said the 6-foot-8 senior forward from Ephrata, who finished 10 of 12 from long range in that November win over San Francisco State.
Perhaps the only surprise is that Simon was draining the threes for Seattle Pacific and not for Washington State.
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In 2007, Simon made headlines when he committed to Washington State and then-coach Tony Bennett — as a ninth-grader. By four months, it was the earliest commitment to a state-of-Washington school, beating that of Brock Osweiler of Kalispell, Mont., to Gonzaga before he ended up playing football at Arizona State.
“Looking back at it now, I don’t think it was the best decision,” Simon said. “I actually frown upon it now — schools asking kids to commit when they are so young — because I feel like it’s hardly their choice at that point.”
That said, Simon said the early commitment allowed him to focus entirely on his game and not on which college coaches might be in the stands scouting him.
Simon was a giant among boys, leading Ephrata to a state Class 2A title as a sophomore. In the semifinals in his senior year, he scored a tournament-record 48 points and led his team to a third-place finish. He was ranked as the country’s No. 12 small forward prospect by Scout.com and was second-team all-state by The Seattle Times.
But by then, Bennett had left for Virginia. But not wanting to follow Bennett across country, Simon went to WSU anyway to play for Ken Bone.
Simon averaged 3.2 points as a freshman while playing 9.6 minutes a game, but those numbers decreased to 2.6 and 6.2 as a sophomore in 2011-12.
It was reported that Bone intended to play Simon more during his junior season, but Simon said he was getting “mixed messages.”
“I guess I didn’t want to take the risk of not getting significant more playing time,” said Simon, who was second-team all-academic Pac-12 as a sophomore. “I figured I was not going to make the NBA, so I transferred. It was going to be a positive thing as compared to sticking around and getting my degree and not getting to fulfill what I really wanted to do and that was to play basketball.”
Seattle Pacific coach Ryan Looney knew all about Simon and immediately coveted him.
“I had seen him a thousand times in the summer playing AAU,” Looney said. “We knew he was a guy with a lot of size who could really shoot.”
And Simon knew he found his place.
“What really got to me was playing in the gym with the guys,” he said. “Just seeing how great a chemistry they had, and I had a lot of fun playing with them. I really had a lot of fun playing with David Downs for the first time. I felt a lot of confidence that it would be a good situation for me.”
Indeed, it has been a great union for both sides, with both Looney and Simon using the word “perfect” to describe it.
Simon averaged 13.4 points last season and was named second-team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
He is averaging 15.9 points this season for the 13-4 Falcons, second in scoring behind point guard Downs, who is at 20.9. Simon is second on the team in rebounding at 4.6 a game.
Simon is making 46.3 percent of his three-pointers, buoyed by that 10-for-12 performance against San Francisco State when he scored a career-high 33 points.
Simon’s value to the team was shown a couple of weeks ago when he missed three games and the Falcons lost two of them to fall out of the national Division II rankings.
Simon said he plans to play in Europe next year, but said his focus now is only on Seattle Pacific.
“It’s been perfect here, and I’ve never been closer to a team,” he said. “I am just trying to soak up this season as much as I can and my last year of college, but I am definitely excited about the next step and see where I can wind up.”
Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943 or firstname.lastname@example.org