HERMISTON — Izzy Simmons hit the Mid-Columbia Conference basketball scene this season, draining 3s from all over the court, driving the lane and leaving opposing coaches wondering, “Who’s this girl?”

Simmons is a 5-foot-7 freshman point guard for Hermiston High School, who has helped the Bulldogs to an 8-2 record this season.

“She has a great shot, good vision and handles the ball well,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said. “She has the Steph Curry snap-it-from-anywhere release. She will be wreaking havoc in the league for three-and-half more years. She is fun to watch, but a nightmare to coach against.”

So far this season, Simmons leads the league in scoring with 19.7 points a game. Her season high is 31 points, while her season low is two points. She also leads the Bulldogs with 5.1 assists, 11 rebounds and 4.1 steals per game.

“When I first saw her, I thought she was good for a freshman,” Hermiston coach Jay Ego said. “I don’t know what really good is for her. She’s impressive for someone as young as she is. She fills up the stat sheet and is so unselfish. She will make the right play. Her work ethic is really good too. You will never see her showboat. She has respect for opponents, respect for her teammates, and respect for the game.”

Simmons has grown up with a basketball in her hands. She started playing in the second grade, and was a star player in AAU circles. Still she was a little surprised when Ego named her a starter as a freshman.

“At first, I was a little shocked,” Simmons said. “There are some seniors and juniors who have been part of the program for a long time, but personally, I knew I worked hard enough to be a starter. I was ready to do what I do and what I love. It is just a game for me, it doesn’t matter their age or height, I just play my game.”

Part of that game is from beyond the arc. She has made 30 3-pointers this season, and is shooting 36.6% from behind the 3-point line.

“She’s a great little player with phenomenal shooting ability,” Schumacher said. “She can shoot from 23 feet like it is a free throw.”

Simmons said she likes to create during the game, not just sit back and launch the deep ball.

“That’s the way I have played,” she said. “You attack. If you can shoot you shoot or pass it off. One of my favorite parts is being able to shock teams that I can shoot the 3 and shoot that far.”

Simmons let opponents know how dangerous she was from the opening game when she had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Davis.

“When she opened that first game, the numbers she presented against a quality opponent on the road were pretty shocking,” Ego said. “I have been doing this a long time, and she is one of the best I have seen. She is an elite shooter, there’s no doubt about it.”

Playing in the MCC is no easy chore, even for a veteran player. Simmons said she’s glad she has teammates to show her the way, and together they have done good things.

“There are a lot of girls who I didn’t know would be as good as they are,” Simmons said of players in the MCC. “The defense is better, and you have to be quicker shooting the ball. I kind of underestimated them. I think they underestimated us. I think they thought Hermiston was no good, but we are one of the teams to beat.”

The Bulldogs are on their third coach in four years, but Simmons said Ego knows his stuff.

“He is a super good coach,” she said. “He is so smart in the basketball department. He just wants us to have fun. He leads the team so well. I have only heard him yell one time. He’s quite a laid back guy.”

Like mother like daughter

You don’t have to look very far to find out where Simmons gets her basketball talent.

Her mom, Alissa Edwards Simmons graduated from Hermiston in 1999, and was a four-year starter on the basketball team. The Bulldogs went to state every year, but never brought home the championship trophy.

“We won the IMC (Intermountain Conference) every year,” she said.

Alissa played college basketball at University of Oregon from 1999 to 2003. She had limited playing time as a freshman, but became a starting point guard part way through her sophomore year.

“My first two years, we went to the NCAA tournament,” she said. “My junior year, we won the WNIT tournament and the championship game was at Oregon.”

Izzy never knew how good her mom was until recently.

“I didn’t realize she was that good until a couple of years ago,” she said. “People would say she played DI. We started watching some film we had. What those people were saying was true. I got some athleticism from her. It still shocks me when they say ‘your mom played D1.’ It’s just crazy how it worked out.”

Alissa married Justin Simmons, who also went to Hermiston, and later played college baseball at Lane Community College. Justin joined the family business — Simmons Financial Group — when they returned to Hermiston. He died of cancer in November 2020.

“That was tough,” Alissa said. “Right before her dad was diagnosed, Izzy decided to put in more time to be better at basketball. She spent a lot of time in the gym during COVID. We are in the process of building a shop with a basketball court and a weightlifting area.”

Alissa coached Izzy during her AAU years through seventh grade.

“Now, I just enjoy watching her play rather than coaching her,” Alissa said.

After watching her daughter hone her skills, Alissa felt Izzy was ready for the rigors of high school basketball.

“She has put a lot of time and work into her game,” Alissa said. “I told her it was just another game. She has played thousands of games. If she was nervous, she didn’t show it.”

Though they share some tremendous basketball skills, Alissa said she isn’t quite ready to hit the court with her daughter.

“Maybe once the shop gets built I will go shoot with her,” she said. “She’s a way better player than I was. I lived at the 3-point line.”

Not only has Simmons made an impact on her team and in the MCC, but Ego said her reach goes beyond the court.

“When you have a role model like Izzy, she sets the bar pretty high,” Ego said. “Little girls look up to her. She leads by example and plays by example. It enhances the program and it creates excitement for the community.”

Sign up for our Daily Headlines newsletter

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.