Sims Focusing On Strengths During Breakout Senior Season


Jeff Yoder Photo /

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – Seybian Sims has come a long way in a year.  

Sims went from a reserve role player last season to one of the top options on a West High team seeking its second straight state title this spring.

There are plenty of reasons for Sims’ senior season ascent.

He’s gotten a little bit bigger and stronger. The experience of last season helped and so did an offseason filled with hoops.

For Sims the biggest adjustment was a simple change in mindset.

“This season I just started focusing on what I could do the best instead of focusing on my weaknesses,” Sims said. “I just stick to what’s working.”

That philosophy has worked wonders for the 6-foot-7 Sims who enters Tuesday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal matchup with Muscatine (16-8) averaging a career-high 14.6 points per game for second-ranked West High (19-4).

“He has been huge for us, we definitely aren’t the team we are without Seybian,” West High junior Patrick McCaffery said. “His number are really good and he’s been really big for us and that has been a massive part of our success.”

The success for Sims started with a shift in how he approached the game.

Sims spent most of his junior season worrying about what he didn’t do well.

As West High marched toward its fourth title in the past six seasons last March Sims was concentrating on what was keeping him out of the game rather than what he did well when he was in.

“I was kind of in my own mindset and didn’t really want to listen,” Sims admitted.

As Sims watched from the bench last season he gained an understanding of what he could bring to the court when he was in.

“Not playing a big role actually helped me,” Sims said. “Since I was sitting on the bench a lot I was watching a lot of things so I kind of knew what to expect this year.

By the time his senior season rolled around Sims was prepared to play to his strengths, which meant less time roaming the perimeter looking for jump shots and more time finishing at the rim.  

Few players in the state have done that better than Sims this season.

Sims ranks second in the state in field goal percentage, shooting 76 percent from the floor and leads the Trojans in rebounding with 6.8 per game.

“I think for West High school basketball it’s rebounding and playing in the paint,” Sims said of his strengths. “That’s what I’m here for this season and that’s what I’m working on.”

Sims has benefitted from opposing defenses focusing on McCaffery, a 6-foot-9 junior that leads the Trojans with 20.6 points per game.

A year after averaging 6.2 points per game, Sims has more than doubled his scoring averaging while emerging as a viable second post option to take some pressure off McCaffery.

“He takes a lot of pressure off of me,” McCaffery said. “If anyone doubles me I can drop it right off to Seybian who has finished plays all year.”

Sims’ biggest improvement has come on the defensive end where he leads West High with 30 blocked shots.

“I think I’ve improved a lot on defense,” Sims said. “At the beginning of the season I couldn’t stay in front of a guard and (Coach Steve Bergman) is known for his defense and he has helped me learn how to use my length and how to use my feet and shuffle.”