Chris Pendley of SB Nation's Tennessee site Rocky Top Talk wrote up an analysis of Lady Vols guard Meighan Simmons a few weeks ago and noted that she hasn't performed well in what he determined were "big games" throughout her career.
That makes her 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting in Tennessee's loss to Notre Dame on Sunday more noteworthy than it would be otherwise.
Simmons was controlled, efficient, and a willing passer despite picking up only three assists - on a number of passes to create scoring opportunities, the teammate receiving the pass simply missed the shot. And most impressive was that Notre Dame was never really able to come up with an answer to stop her, as reported by the AP.
"I thought we kept our poise on a night when Meighan Simmons was unbelievable," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I mean, she had a great game. We had a lot of trouble containing her."
The key is that Simmons didn't get frustrated with her team losing (or overconfident in making shots) and start taking (too many) bad shots, which has been the knock on her over the past few seasons. She did have a season-high 7 turnovers, but let's focus on the scoring for now.
For those with an eye on the 2014 WNBA Draft, what's most noteworthy is Simmons' increased efficiency as a scorer inside the arc: she hasn't been near 50% since her freshman year and this year she has a 2-point percentage of 50.44%, which is well above the threshold for making it in the WNBA on the wing. With her speed in the open court and ability to create her own shot when necessary, the performance against Notre Dame is encouraging - as stated previously, if she can find a team where she isn't relied upon for creating shots but can play off other players, she can be a useful sparkplug off the bench.
Simmons is far from a flawless prospect - her free throw and steal rates are a bit lower than average for a wing prospect, she's a career 32.4% 3-point shooter, and she's averaging a career-high 3.05 turnovers - but there's something to the point Pendley made before: a WNBA team that wanted to make use of her speed and shooting ability could probably make use of her next to a bigger ball handler and defender in the backcourt. In that circumstance, as Pendley alluded to, Simmons could thrive on a roster that allows her to, "...let the talent around [her] dominate...the points - and, more importantly - efficiency will come."
For more on draft prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft prospect watch storystream.