The Austin Spurs jumped out to an early lead and had no trouble protecting it in a 114-103 win against the Grand Rapids Drive on Wednesday.
Bryce Cotton and Jonathan Simmons combined for 41 points as the Spurs moved to 3-0 to start the season.
Simmons, a product of Smiley High School in Houston, traveled an unlikely path on his way to Austin. He went through two junior colleges before transferring to the University of Houston in 2011. After going understated in 2012, Simmons spent a year in the American Basketball League before earning a spot on the Austin Toros at the team’s local tryouts. He was called up for a brief stint with the San Antonio Spurs but was reassigned to Austin for the 2015-2016 season.
The game featured two former collegiate star point guards in Ryan Boatright and Cotton. A national champion at UConn, Boatright carried over his competitive fire into Wednesday’s game, flying all over the court and barking out at his teammates after missed shots and turnovers. He finished the game with 11 points and two assists.
Cotton was clearly the better player, scoring at will almost the entire afternoon. He hit three of five shots from beyond the arc and converted on all four of his free throw attempts in a team-high 21-point effort.
During his time at Providence, Cotton led the Friars to a Big East Tournament title, where he was named MVP of the contest. In the team’s opening round matchup, Cotton dropped 36 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a close loss to North Carolina.
After going undrafted in 2014, Cotton spent some time with the Utah Jazz before being picked up by the Spurs. He and Simmons look like the only two players who could see some court time in San Antonio in the near future.
Deshaun Thomas, former Ohio State big man, played well in his third game back in the United States. He spent the last two seasons overseas for JSF Nanterre in France and FC Barcelona in Spain, rejoining the Spurs team that originally drafted him with the 58th pick of the 2013 NBA draft. In Wednesday’s contest, he scored 1o points on 5-11 shooting and pulled down five rebounds in 33 minutes of action.
Henry Sims, who played for John Thompson III at Georgetown, paced the Drive with 24 points and nine rebounds. He matched up against the Spurs’ 2015 second round pick, Cady Lalanne from UMass. Lalanne finished with nine points, five rebounds, a steal and a block.
The Spurs will take on the Texas Legends next on Friday in Frisco.