Aamir Simms may not play football at Clemson, but that has not stopped the Tigers’ basketball star from having a unique friendship with Dabo Swinney.
It is a relationship that began when Simms was being recruited to Clemson in 2017. During his visit to Clemson, basketball coach Brad Brownell introduced Simms to Swinney and Clemson University President Jim Clements. From there the relationship grew and the two now message each other frequently.
“Since I stepped foot on campus, Dabo has been in my corner and wants to see me succeed and take our program to the next level,” Simms said.
Simms has done that, of course. He and the seventh-seed Tigers are back in the NCAA Tournament for a second time in his career, where they will play No. 10 seed Rutgers in the Midwest Regional on Friday in Indianapolis. Simms helped Clemson reach the Sweet 16 of the Big Dance back in 2018, his freshman year.
“He has done nothing but support me,” Simms said about his relationship with Swinney. “Even if we lose, he is kinda one of the first people to text me.”
Swinney just does not say, “hold your head up” or anything of that nature. No, he coaches from afar and gives Simms pointers or points out some of the mistakes he made throughout the game and what he can do to get better.
“He just keeps talking to me through my ear, ‘You now how to lead a team’ and stuff like that,” Simms said about some of the conversations. “Our relationship has definitely been mutual and just seeing the success he has had has definitely been an inspiration to me and motivation to get our program to the next level, similar to what he did (with football.)”
Simms has done a pretty good job in getting the basketball program to play at a high level. Besides the Sweet 16 run in 2018, he was also part of a 20-win team the next season, and last year he was on a team that beat three top 6 teams … the first time a Clemson team has ever done it. They also were the first Clemson team to win at North Carolina.
This year, the Tigers (16-7) beat six NCAA Tournament teams and had the best resume of any ACC team in the field of 68.
Before leaving for Indianapolis, Simms got another text from Swinney.
“He wants nothing but to see us succeed and take our program to the next level,” the senior said.
Clemson will attempt to do that on Friday night beginning at 9:20 p.m.
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