By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
In all the gyms in all the country, Killeen senior forward Imari Simpson and Northwest College (Wyo.) met at Ellison.
And at almost the perfect time.
The Trappers showed immediate interest in Simpson at an open gym at Ellison and two days later offered Simpson a full scholarship to attend the Powell, Wyo. community college.
"I didn't even know where Wyoming was. ... And at Ellison of all places," Simpson joked Wednesday after signing with the Trappers in a ceremony at the Killeen gym. "It really feels like it's a new beginning in my life and I'm blessed to have the experience to see new places. I'm really happy."
As a senior, Simpson averaged seven points, three rebounds and two steals a game this season but was never quite her usual dominant, "bruising" self after suffering a preseason knee injury, Killeen coach Latisha Williams said.
"I really think a lot of teams in Texas are missing out; she deserves to play on the next level and I think she'll be really good," Williams said. "I think they lucked out by finding her and, if she had the time to develop more, she could be an unbelievable player and an unbelievable prospect in two years."
Maybe then Sam Houston State, which was interested but never offered, or some of the other schools that passed up on Simpson might come back with renewed focus.
"I'm extremely proud considering during the year she had a tough time (because of her injury)," said Imari's twin sister, Imani. "I'm glad she got the opportunity to do it because I know how much she loves the game. ... I know the heart of my sister: if she feels like she can do it, it's done."
Imari Simpson is the Lady Roos' first girls basketball player to sign a letter of intent since Jasmine Baugus signed with Texas State in 2010. She was a District 8-4A second team selection as a senior and an all-district first teamer as a junior when she averaged nearly 21 points a game in Killeen's final three games of the 2010-11 season, including a whopping 27 in the Lady Roos' bi-district playoff loss.
And while the early-season injury slowed the driven forward this year, she started regaining her form late in the year, helping the Lady Roos win seven of their final 10 games and their third district co-championship in four years.
"It feels great because after my knee injury, I really didn't think anybody was going to pick me up," Simpson said. "Thank goodness I went to open gym that day."