40-years later: Former Bulldog coach still has a passion for the game | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | April 19, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: April 18, 2018 at 11:19 am
By CINDY CROSBY
Over 40 years later, Francis Simmons’ love for the game of basketball remains as strong — or stronger — than during his years spent as the Walterboro High School boys’ basketball coach. From 1975-85, Simmons served as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
Recently, Simmons has been serving as a volunteer consultant and assistant for a very special girls’ team from Hamilton Heights Christian School in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Hamilton Heights Hawks compiled a 2017-18 record of 24-2 and featured two McDonald’s All-American players, Jazmine Massengill (committed to Tennessee) and Elizabeth Balogun (committed to Georgia Tech). Additionally, two players have multiple offers on the table, including 2020 guard Treasure Hunt with offers from South Carolina, Georgia Tech, LSU, Alabama, Toledo, Tennessee, Michigan State and Georgia, along with 2020 post Kamilla Cardosa, who has fielded offers from Western Kentucky, South Carolina and Ohio State.
Simmons began consulting with the team this season and recently traveled with the Hawks for their second appearance in the Geico High School Basketball Nationals (formerly ****’S Nationals) in New York City. Boasting the best high school basketball talent in the country, the three-day, single-elimination four-team tournament ran March 29-31 and was broadcast on ESPN.
Central Valley (Spokane) beat Hamilton Heights Christian (Chattanooga, Tenn.) by just five points, 66-61, in the championship of the GEICO High School Nationals.
The Hamilton Heights Lady Hawks have a winning tradition in basketball that dates back for the past 10 years. Led by Coach Keisha Hunt, who joined the Lady Hawks staff in the fall of 2005 as an assistant coach and took over as head coach in 2009, the Lady Hawks will be a team to watch again next season. Coach Hunt played high school basketball at Charleston High School and later signed to play with Cleveland State Community College.
Coach Simmons, who currently lives in Irmo, has 33 years’ experience as an educator and coach of highly competitive basketball teams for high school and collegiate athletic programs. A successful record of accomplishment for graduating student-athletes, managing athletic programs, recruiting and developing talent at the high school and college levels, Simmons remains actively involved in faculty, athletic and student affairs committees and is currently pursuing his master of science in education from the University of South Carolina.
Simmons previously served as the head men’s basketball coach at Voorhees College in Denmark, women’s head basketball coach at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., assistant men’s basketball coach at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, assistant coach for the United States Olympic Basketball Team in Seoul, Korea (1988) and assistant men’s basketball coach at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.