A few weeks ago, the Rockets signed guard Courtney Fortson for the rest of this season and for a non-guaranteed deal next year. Thursday, they gave the same allowance to 6-foot-7, 230-pound Diamon Simpson.
The 24-year-old was a former star at St. Mary’s (California), where he left as its all-time leader in rebounds (1130), blocked shots (239), steals (174) and free throws (470/777). He was with the Gaels all four years, and averaged 12.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 128 games.
After graduating from St. Mary’s, Simpson started the 2009-10 season in training camp with Golden State before signing on with the NBA D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, where he produced 15.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for average in his 30 appearances. He was then bought out of his contract by the Alaska Aces of the Philippine Basketball Association, where he led the Aces to the championship by averaging 25 points and 16 rebounds.
After leaving Alaska, Simpson signed with a team in the Turkish Basketball League, where he suffered a down year, averaging 7.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in four games, playing out of position at small forward. Earlier this season, he found himself with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia. In 27 matches with the 36ers, he averaged 14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He also posted 12 double-doubles and five 20-point performances this season with Adelaide.
From what I can tell, Simpson is an undersized power forward with nice athleticism and someone who clearly knows his way around the rim. He’s an intriguing prospect since the league is going to where bigs are more mobile and versatile. I would say he looks to be like a more athletic Brandon Bass, and the fact that he has impressive shot-blocking numbers shows that he has good timing and length against players taller than him.
Admittedly, this is only a look. It’s been said by people in the know that Simpson is a “long, long shot” to stick around with the Rockets, so I wouldn’t get too attached. But GM Daryl Morey is always looking for hidden gems, and we’ll get a good feel of Simpson if he’s around long enough to stick with the Rockets’ summer league team.