Roosevelt guard Deszie Sims (JEFF WHEELER/Star Tribune)
Deszie Sims of Minneapolis Roosevelt leads his basketball team in almost every major statistical category this season.
Sims, a junior, had averaged 24.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 4.0 assists in 23 games heading into Friday’s game against Minneapolis South. The 6-0 point guard had seven double-doubles and one triple-double, helping the Teddies to a 15-8 record.
“There hasn’t been a game this year when he hasn’t been the best player on the floor,” Roosevelt coach Rob Mestas said.
Sims joined the basketball team last season and was the third-leading scorer by the end of the season. He said he worked hard over this past summer to improve, joining an AAU team that traveled to tournaments around the country.
Sims plans to play next summer for the Howard Pulley AAU team, Mestas said.
Sims said he first tried basketball in sixth grade but didn’t start playing for a team until he was a freshman. After transferring to Roosevelt, he caught the attention of Mestas, who also teaches gym classes, during a basketball game at school.
“That’s when I saw he could help us,” Mestas said.
Mestas won the state’s Mr. Basketball award as a senior at Roosevelt in 1995 and played college basketball at Miami (Ohio). He became Roosevelt’s coach in 2012. The team has reached the Class 3A, Section 6 championship game in two of the past three years.
He said Sims is the best player talentwise whom he’s coached at Roosevelt.
“There’s things he does on the basketball court that I’ve never seen before,” Mestas said.
Sims is one of the best rebounders in the state, said Mestas, who estimated that he has more dunks than any other player in the Twin Cities. He noted that Sims had 10 steals when he posted a triple-double against Minneapolis Southwest earlier this month.
He said Sims is more of a natural wing player, but he has him play the point guard because he would be too small to be a wing in college.
Sims said he enjoys playing point guard, adding that he’s cut down on his turnovers from last season. He said he still wants to improve his defense and shooting.
Roosevelt senior Leo Buchwald, who is averaging nearly 15 points per game, said Sims exceeded expectations when he joined the team last season. He said Sims grew both physically and as a player over the summer.
He said it’s fun to play with someone so athletic, noting that it helps other players on the team.
Sims has the talent to play Division I basketball, Mestas said, but he’ll likely have to attend a junior college or prep school first. Sims said he struggled at school at points during his freshman and sophomore years, as he dealt with moving multiple times.
“I didn’t have the help I was supposed to have,” he said. “I’m trying to do things differently now. Trying to get myself back on track.”
On the court, he’s working to help Roosevelt reach another section title game. The team moved up to Class 3A this school year and plays in a section with six-time reigning state champion DeLaSalle and fifth-ranked Orono. Mestas and Sims both recognized that the team would face long odds in a matchup with DeLaSalle but said a victory wouldn’t be completely out of the question.
“We’re going to go out there and do our best,” Mestas said. “If we don’t win, the good thing I look forward to is what we’ve got next year.”