After a stand out performance in the scrimmages, Sims landed third in points on the leaderboard and became the blue team captain. The personality that would shine all week first came out for fans at draft as she called out names to constructed her team.
— The Sky Show CHI (@TheSkyShowCHI) January 23, 2022
Her No. 1 pick was Kalani Brown, who Sims would not only build her team around but her game strategy, too.
At the first day of practice, everyone in the arena learned something integral about Brown: never, ever bounce pass the ball to her. How would you know this? Well, Sims emphasized it. Six times to be exact.
“We have a big presence inside. I don’t see how you don’t utilize a 6-foot-7 post player that can go either way,” Sims explained at practice. “Just looking at my team we’re going to play inside out.”
— Savanna Collins (@savannaecollins) January 24, 2022
With just two days to prepare before their first game, Sims prioritized her team getting to know one another. Some of them had never met, nevertheless played together, before Athletes Unlimited.
They were a fairly quiet group on day one as they worked to install a couple of sets. Ball screens for the guards and a pick ‘n roll for Brown that would prove to be lethal against opponents.
Sims made her debut as a captain as AU Pro Hoops made its debut to the world. “I was a little nervous, I’m not gonna lie,” Sims admitted.
From a spoken word piece, to messages from co-founders Jonathan Soros and Jon Patricof, to a live performance from Tymara Walker, there was a lot of build up to the opening tip off.
The magnitude of being the first game of this new league wasn’t lost on Sims.
“I was really overwhelmed. I had to tell my team…everybody was talking to me at once. I was like, ‘Hey can y’all give me a second? My brain is just fried right now.’”
Brown got into foul trouble early and Team Sims struggled without the center that anchored the offense. Team Sims fell to Team Russell 71-80, but Sims took the loss in stride.
— Athletes Unlimited (@AUProSports) January 28, 2022
She identified with her team what they needed to improve on: rebounds, turnovers and energy.
After a break on Thursday to regroup and practice together, improvements in the blue squad’s game plan were clear. The captain looked much more confident and sure of herself compared to night one. That assurance shined through in her performance as she dropped one dime after the other, racking up 12 assists and feeding Brown to 30 points. Sims picked up a 31 points herself, going 9 for 20 from the floor, 4 for 6 beyond the arc and a perfect 9 for 9 at the free throw line.
I hope WNBA GMs and coaches are paying attention.
— Khristina Williams (@Khristina) January 29, 2022
Despite the magnificent effort by the point guard and her center, Team Sims came up short 103-108 against Team Mitchell.
As the final game of the weekend rolled around, Team Sims was trying to avoid going 0-3. Meanwhile, Team Carrington was looking to be perfect with three straight wins. DiJonai Carrington’s purple team was coming off of a double-overtime victory the night before and the chemistry for this group was flowing. They battled past Team Sims to the third victory they were looking for, 84-78.
Regardless of how many win points Sims’ blue squad picked up, no one can argue the toughness they showed every time they took the floor together. They made improvements each game, never losing by more than nine and battled to win quarters.
As for Sims, she’s out of the top four on the leaderboard and back to just being a point guard. She’ll go into Week 2 the top scorer in the league, averaging 23 points per game, and second in assists.
But more than anything, Sims is happy to be having fun hooping.
Team Hawkins staves off late comeback by Team Harrison in 85-74 victory
Cloud, Carrington, Brown lead Team Cloud in 105-94 win
Sydney Colson leads Team Hawkins past Team Cloud, 90-70