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Hoopster Who Broke Randy Smith's Record Hoping to Become Pro

By Tony Farina

Jake Simmons
Randy Smith

For readers who may be too young to remember, Randy Smith was one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of Western New York, a three-sport All-American (basketball, soccer, and track) at Buffalo State during his college career from 1968-1971 who went on to star in the NBA, playing for eight years for the old Buffalo Braves and later for the Cavaliers, Knicks, and Clippers.

During his sensational three-year basketball career at Buffalo State, Smith, at 6 foot 3 and 180 pounds, scored 1,712 points, a scoring record that stood for 41 years until it was broken during the 2012-13 season by Jake Simmons, who played four years for the Bengals and finished his career with 2,079 points.

Simmons, who is three inches shorter than Smith, scored 43 points against Central Penn College on Dec. 14, 2012, to move past Smith's long-standing mark.

"It was like I was crying on the court," Simmons said during a recent interview of the night he passed Smith. "To break such a record by a great person and player like Randy Smith was very special. And to do it at home, at our last home game of the year, was like a dream come true. Something I had worked so hard to accomplish."

Simmons, a Rochester native, averaged about 20 points a game during his college career, and now he hopes to continue his basketball career as a pro. This week, the collegiate hoop star and record holder will travel alone by bus from Buffalo to Atlanta for a tryout with the D-League team of the NBA Atlanta Hawks. He also now has an agent to help him promote his game.

Simmons, a shooting guard who says he can also play point guard, will be competing against 16 other hopefuls for 10 spots on the D-League team. The D-League is one notch below the NBA, and is kind of a minor league farm system for players hoping to catch on with an NBA team. The competition is tough, and Simmons knows he will have to be at the top of his game to make it. The young man is also eyeing European basketball as a way to catch the eye of NBA scouts who spend a lot of time watching games overseas, looking for the right fit for their team.

Simmons is a delightful young man who speaks almost reverently of the late Randy Smith, who died at the age of 60 in June of 2009. There will never be another Randy Smith, who was an all-star NBA player who will never be forgotten by people who saw him play, whether in person or in old video footage.

Jake Simmons knows that Randy Smith was a basketball legend and he feels blessed to be mentioned in the same breath as the man whose record he broke last December. But Jake Simmons is a worthy record holder and we wish him the best as he bids to become a pro like his idol did so many years ago.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 01, 2013