Five-star prospect Simeon Wilcher comes from a family of athletes and looks to follow his older brother C.J.’s footsteps when it comes to making an impact at the college level. Standing at 6’5” and 180 pounds as a rising junior, Wilcher does a good job maximizing his tools at both ends of the court. Being a smooth operator on offense and a feisty guard on defense help set him apart from the competition and make the most of his opportunities. His versatility, facilitating, finishing, creating, and mental edge all project as some of his differentiators, moving forward.
This summer, Wilcher is eager to pick up where he left off pre-COVID and show coaches how hard he’s been working to improve his game.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Wilcher discusses his strengths and weaknesses, his journey to becoming noticed on a national scale, his recruitment update, his off-court interests, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2023 prospect Simeon Wilcher, from Plainfield, New Jersey:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today?
Simeon Wilcher: I’m from Plainfield, New Jersey — kind of small town. I have four siblings: three older brothers and a little sister. I’m the youngest out of the four boys. Oldest brother C.J. just transferred to Nebraska. I’m very family-oriented, I like to enjoy my family on a daily basis and spend the time. There’s a lot going on right now and you never know when that time is up so I just like to enjoy their presence. I didn’t start off playing basketball, when I was younger I played a variety of sports like track and football. When I was around seven years old is when I really started taking basketball seriously.
PI: When did you shift full-time to basketball?
SW: Around seven years old is when I really started training and made basketball my main focus — so I kinda stopped with the other sports.
PI: What made you fall in love with basketball?
SW: I always played with my brothers if it was like going to the park and playing “21” or H.O.R.S.E. I always played, was around it, and watched it. Growing up I was a big KD fan. My brother C.J. played a big part in me wanting to play basketball.
PI: What are your current measurements?
SW: I’m 6’5” and 180 pounds and I don’t know my wingspan.
PI: For those that aren’t super familiar with your game — what are your greatest strengths?
SW: I feel like some of my greatest strengths are getting my teammates involved and being able to play both sides of the ball. I feel like good defense makes offense easier because it gives you way more freedom. And playing defense allows you to not call set plays because everybody gets out and runs and can score easily that way.
PI: You set a goal to average a certain amount of steals — how many did you end up averaging?
SW: I think I averaged around 4-4.5 steals/game. It varied throughout all our games, but it was around there.
PI: How would you describe yourself as a defender?
SW: I think I’m a pretty good defender — always room for improvement, but with my size and my length it kind of makes it harder for someone to get by me because I can move my feet, too. I think my footwork is pretty good. Especially if I’m guarding bigger guys who can handle it to the smaller guys who are quick and fast. I guard PG-SF at the high school level.
PI: What do you feel you still need to improve on the most? What have you been working on?
SW: I need to get better at everything in my game. I feel like everything is not perfect or where I want it to be right now. All aspects of my game from ball-handling, jump shots, defense, etc. could use improvement.
PI: What are some underrated parts of your game you feel you don’t get enough credit for?
SW: Feel like my passing ability is kind of underrated. I just like to put my teammates in positions to get easy baskets.
PI: You seem to play with a chip on your shoulder — where does that edge come from?
SW: I know a big portion of it was me not being able to play with COVID taking over and stopping AAU sports and sports period. Also with me, I feel like, if you really want something you have to take it. Just playing with a different type of anger, fire, and demeanor towards basketball because you never know when the ball is going to stop bouncing. So you’ve got to play every play or possession like it’s your last and that’s what I try to do when I step out there.
PI: Who has been the toughest individual matchup you’ve ever faced?
SW: I’ve played against a lot of good guys. I don’t know if there’s a certain one to point out more than others, but I’ve played against a lot of good guys.
PI: Do you model your game after anyone in particular?
SW: I try to model my game after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the OKC Thunder because he’s a lengthy guard who can score, but loves to involve his teammates. He also plays both sides of the ball.
PI: Why do you wear #4? Is there a story behind it?
SW: I used to wear #14 my freshman year and one of my teammate’s grandmother passed away and he asked to wear #14 because it symbolized a lot for him so I just switched over to #4. I was wearing it [#4] a lot in off-season games and when I started playing with PSA [Cardinals], that was the number I wore. And I’m my dad’s fourth son, so I’ll say that too [smiles].
PI: With COVID essentially wiping out AAU in 2020, what are you eager to show coaches this summer?
SW: I just want to show everybody that me and my team can battle with the top guys that have been able to play. Because some people have still been able to play during the season and even more than us this summer. I just want to show that we’re ready and that we can go out there and win some games.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player and as a person?
SW: I want to become a better leader for my team this year. I want to show my growth from the last time I’ve been able to play, not even from last AAU to this year, but from my last high school until now. I just want to show my growth.
PI: What steps do you need to take to be the leader you want to be?
SW: I basically want to be a coach on the court, so that involves me being more vocal and expressing myself and carrying myself like one. Being accountable for mistakes, not getting upset, and making sure everything is in the right position so we can win.
PI: How about long term?
SW: I want to be an NBA superstar. I don’t want to just make it into the NBA because a lot of people make it and kind of just “fall off.” Well not “fall off” because they’re still great players, but they slide out of the league. I want to go there and stick, stay, and be able to produce.
PI: What are some things you bring to a team off the court?
SW: I feel like I’m a fun guy, I like to laugh and joke. I really like to be around my teammates, make funny jokes, listen to music, all that fun stuff. And when it’s time to lock in a play, it’s time to become serious and focus on the task at hand.
PI: When did you start to get noticed on a national scale?
SW: I feel like my reclassification year because my first 8th grade year I was a little pudgy fat kid. Then my reclassification year my parents put me in the right situation which helped me grow and get comfortable with my body when I was out there playing. They put me in a position where I was always getting better. So me going out there and playing against those guys wasn’t really anything because I was confident in what I could do. So yeah I feel like my reclassification my 8th grade year.
PI: How did getting national attention boost your confidence or change your approach to the game?
SW: It kind of boosted my confidence because I wanted to be one of those guys to be ranked high, but I try to keep it in the back of my head. I don’t really allow it to make me become big-headed or anything like that. Of course it boosted my confidence because as a young basketball player that’s always something that you wanted. You see those guys older than you getting ranked, going to big time colleges, and ending up in the league and so you feel like you’re taking the right steps to get to where you want to be.
PI: How have you dealt with all of the attention?
SW: Of course there’s expectations, but I don’t really get into those things. I always want to be myself on and off the court. Just do what I do and everything will fall into place because doing that is what got me here.
PI: What’s the latest with your recruitment?
SW: My two latest offers are from Nebraska and Oklahoma State. I also have St. John’s, UCLA, Iowa, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Kansas, Xavier, Wake Forest, Auburn, Miami, UConn, and Morgan State.
PI: Who have you been hearing from the most lately?
SW: Due to the dead period and me personally, I can’t speak to any coaches because I’m too young. And with the dead period they’re worried about their teams right now.
PI: What are you ultimately looking for in a school of choice?
SW: For me, it’s somewhere that allows me to be me and play my game within their system and prepare me for the next level.
PI: What kind of system do you feel best fits your strengths as a player?
SW: I feel like every system can fit mine because I can adapt to a lot of situations. So I feel like I can fit every system.
PI: Who are some people you’ll be relying on for guidance during the recruitment process?
SW: My parents, C.J. and my coaches.
PI: How would you see your role at the next level?
SW: I see my role as a big role because I feel like every school that’s recruiting me can use me in their own way because I can play both sides of the ball. I don’t need to have the ball in my hands to score or to facilitate and just be that coach on the floor that every program likes.
PI: How would you define the word ‘success?’
SW: Success means me being in a position where I can help my family and community — people around me who have been there with me from the beginning. Also it’s when I really know that my hard work paid off. Being able to create generational wealth and being able to do the things that growing up I always dreamed of.
PI: What do you personally feel you’ll need to accomplish in your career in order for you to become satisfied?
SW: I want to be a perennial all-star, be up there on the leaderboards with all of the Hall of Famers. And also have the opportunity to be one of those Hall of Famers. Then being able to come back home and give back to younger guys, build facilities, and all of that stuff so they can get on with their journey through sports.
PI: What would you say is the smartest purchase you’ve ever made?
SW: I don’t really buy stuff myself, I kind of get stuff through my parents [smiles]. Personally, I feel like Crocs is my smartest purchase as of now.
PI: Do you have a favorite book?
SW: No I don’t think I have a favorite, I’ve read a few good books, but I don’t think I have a favorite one.
PI: In your Sports Illustrated blog you recommended the book The Coffee Bean — talk about that book?
SW: Yeah, Coach Munch gave me that. It’s a short and powerful book. It has a lot of things that you can use in any walks of life and it’s really about absorbing information and being open minded.
PI: Talk about your most embarrassing moment.
SW: Nah, I don’t think I have a most embarrassing moment. I’ve definitely been crossed up and dunked on...I’ll say me getting dunked on was my most embarrassing moment.
PI: Talk about your favorite all-time memory on the basketball court.
SW: My greatest memory is my brother [C.J.] passing me the ball for my first basket.
PI: Aside from C.J., do other members of the family play hoops?
SW: My brother Malik played basketball in high school. My oldest brother Sergio, he played basketball when he was younger, but he was mainly a track guy as well as football. Those were his focuses.
PI: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
SW: I would say when somebody is eating and they’re smacking [smiles]. Also somebody tapping their nails on the desk — it’s kind of weird, but that’s a pet peeve of mine. Yeah those are the ones I can really think of right now.
PI: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your life up to this point?
SW: I feel like my family as a whole has been a big influence on me. They all help and guide me in different ways on and off the court. They guide me through little things that will get me through life.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your natural talent and ability or on your work ethic?
SW: I’d say my work ethic, because natural talent after a while it doesn’t [get you further] because everybody starts to catch up and get better. So I feel like work ethic, day in and day out is what I rely on the most because that’s where you get most of your confidence from. If you know you put in the work to get to where you’re at right now then you know that nothing is going to stop you if you put in the same amount of work. Well not just the same amount of work, but if you keep grinding and toughening out through everything.
PI: With both of your dad and C.J. being high-level athletes, themselves, what have they instilled in you over the years?
SW: My mom played, too — not in college, but she played basketball when she was in high school. I’d say they instilled hard work because at first I was kind of a little lazy guy who didn’t really want to do anything out of my comfort zone. They instilled in me, “with hard work comes great success.” So I’ll say just hard work.
PI: When do you feel like the switch flipped in terms of your understanding of the importance of pushing yourself?
SW: I feel like it really clicked for me around like 5th grade and my parents had me playing up with like a year or two. They were kind of pushing me around and I wasn’t able to do what I normally do when I played against kids my age. It really clicked and turned on for me because I felt like I needed to be able to run with those guys. And be able to feel comfortable and be myself. So yeah, around the 5th grade.
PI: Who’s someone you really look up to?
SW: C.J. a lot because his story is very different from mine. Growing up he was overlooked a lot because he didn’t pass the “eye test” because he was always a little bit of a chunky kid. He was always good on the court, but looking at him he doesn’t really arouse you or get you off your feet. But he worked day in and day out — working out two or three times per day and focusing on bettering himself. If it was from his diet, to on the court, to everything to get to where he’s at now [playing at Nebraska], yeah I look up to C.J.
PI: Talk about a time or story in your life that you feel has really shaped who you are today.
SW: From a basketball standpoint I’d say going to the basketball academy when I was in 8th grade, that brought me to a different level. As I said before, I was kind of a little fat kid, a little pudgy. And being able to go there and workout three to four times a day while doing school work, and having to be around people who had the same goals as me helped shape me into who I am, basketball wise. My mom mentioned watching everything C.J. and I went through, because growing up we didn’t really have many friends socially. C.J. is a really quiet guy, he doesn’t really speak unless spoken to. Battling with stuff in school, he had a really tough time with everything. Watching everything he’s been through really shaped me. He was able to guide me and help me to get to the right path for everything. He wasn’t doing terribly in school, but he wasn’t doing as great as he wanted to him being in college now having a 3.6 GPA, which is a big deal.
PI: Are you more of an introvert or extrovert?
SW: I’m an extrovert. I’m very social with everybody, like to talk to everybody. I know a lot of people, so when it comes to socializing I feel like I’m an extrovert [smiles].
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
SW: My dad has dropped a lot of gems on me growing up, it’s hard to pick out a specific one. That’s a hard question.
PI: In what ways has your dad been an example to you?
SW: He taught me just to be yourself regardless if people like it, or not. Also he taught me hard work because he’s a really hard-working guy. He’s a barber so he wakes up — well he says he doesn’t really sleep because he’s always thinking about something, but he gets up and goes to work everyday. He makes sure his work schedule is flexible to get us places, me and C.J. places and my little sister when she’s with us. So I’ll say that.
PI: If you woke up tomorrow to see a fortune in your bank account, what would be your first purchase?
SW: I am a big fan of vehicles even though I don’t have my license just yet [smiles]. I would take about 400K of that money and buy a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which is my dream car. It’s a big Rolls-Royce truck, that’s the first thing I would buy. Then I would buy clothes and stuff and just relax...then I’d give the rest to my parents to make sure I don’t go broke in 24 hours.
PI: What are you most passionate about outside of the game of basketball?
SW: I just like to hang out with my friends and family. Enjoy social time with the people I love the most.
PI: Are you a gamer?
SW: Yes. I used to be a big time gamer [smiles]. I used to get on the game for hours and hours then I gradually stopped that. Playstation anything, I’m not an Xbox guy. I’m a Sony guy, not a Microsoft fan. I play Call of Duty, Fortnite, Madden, I don’t like NBA 2K21 on current gen so I play NBA 2K20 if my friends want to play. I usually play those three: Madden, Fortnite, Call of Duty.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
SW: I think I would always have something to do with sports so I think I would become a commentator, trainer, sports therapist, or something like that. Stay involved with sports.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
SW: Intelligent. Confident. Courageous. Passionate.
PI: If someone were to write a book or a movie about your life, what would be the title?
SW: Rags to Riches….or From the Mud. Yeah, From the Mud, that would be the name. I like that one. That really catches somebody’s eye because you don’t really know what it’s about. I feel like The Story of Simeon or something like that is so boring, there’s no excitement in something like that. So I’ll say From the Mud — that’s an eye-catcher.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
SW: I want to be remembered for being a great person, being a guy kids look up to and who want to be like him. Because he does all the right things on and off the court, he doesn’t really get in trouble. And he’s always there to give back to help the younger kids stay out of the streets and dibbling and dabbling with the bad things. I’d say that’s it.