📅12 March 2015
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By Jay Leon Guerrero

Once every other decade, a special talent emerges on the high school basketball scene as a deadly threat from behind the arc. Erwin Villa, a sharp shooting guard for the JFK Islanders emerged on the scene 20 years ago and still holds high school records for three-pointers. Today, a slender 14-year-old from St. John’s looks to help his team become a power house in the years to come and possibly break Villa’s records.

Takumi “Curry” Simon from the St. John’s Knights’ “fab five” freshman class is working hard to help his team get back to playoff contention. Simon is a soft-spoken, quiet 14 year-old that is friendly to everyone on and off the court. But he is a silent killer from behind the arc and will drain 3’s if given enough space, just like the “splash brothers” from the Golden State Warriors.

Takumi, called “Tack” by his teammates and close friends, had highlights against tough competition in the boys basketball league and helped the Knights get seven wins thus far this season; much to the surprise of everyone who follows high school basketball.
Prior to the IIAAG high school basketball season, the Knights suffered a setback with key players Gavin Moore and Junmao Wang out for the season with injuries.

Freshman guard Michael Min said that there was uncertainty of his team fielding a varsity squad because there wasn’t much players that tried out for the team.

Takumi "Curry" Simon is identified as one of the league's most deadly shooters. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Takumi “Curry” Simon is identified as one of the league’s most deadly shooters. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

“We were going to just put out only a junior varsity team because we didn’t have many players. I’m glad we decided to play varsity though, we’ve made much progress since and learned so much (playing in the varsity level),” said Min.

The Knights were huge underdogs coming into the season with five freshman on the team but managed to finish the season at a respectable (7-9) record,  including upset wins over the Okkodo Bulldogs and the St. Paul’s Warriors.

“We have had a shot at making the playoffs, we just needed to win our remaining games,” said guard Arvin Flores, the only senior on the team. Tony Susim, a junior, is the seventh member of the squad.island fit logo

“Arvin is a great defender and a really good leader. We wanted to make the playoffs for him,” said Simon.

Simon said that everyone has a role on their team and his job is to get open and knock down shots. He also said that he would not be able to score without the great playmaking of his teammates. According to Simon, getting recognition for his shooting is good, but his team deserves all the credit.

“Tack,” an all-around athlete, usually plays the whole game for the Knights. Simon is the schools’ top long distance runner coming in the top 10 at the All-Island IIAAG cross country meet during the first quarter. According to his coaches, Simon has very good stamina and they can rely on him playing major minutes.

Head coach Fred Peters said that Simon will be valuable for the Knights in the years to come but he needs to continue to work hard.

Simon knows his way around the offense and is able to get plenty of good looks each game. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Simon knows his way around the offense and is able to get plenty of good looks each game. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

“This is the first year I’ve coached Takumi but I’ve known him since the second grade. The talent is there, he has the potential to be one of the best players in the league, but it’s all up to him,” said Peters. “The way he shoots the ball, that’s a special talent”.

Growing up in the small St. John’s community, the group has been together since kindergarten, “I’ve known Takumi since we were really young. I used to go to his house and play one-on-one or HORSE with him,” said Min.

Min said that one thing the Knights got going for them is that they have been playing alongside each other for many years so they know each others game. Tony Hsieh, Isaac Sim, and Dylan Franquez complete the five freshman in the varsity squad for the Knights.

John Pangilinan Jr., along with his father John Sr., helped coach Simon in middle school and saw much improvement in his game throughout the years.

“He was always the shortest player out there which caused him to focus on shooting rather than driving in,” said Pangilinan Jr. “I used to drive in a lot and get blocked many times, so I decided to work on my shooting to score points,” said Simon.

Simon sprouted up to 5’8″ in his freshman year and now has some height which is opening up his drive game. “Recently, I started working on driving in again to help my team,” said Simon who uses the Steph Curry floater.

The future is very bright for the young "Curry" Simon after putting forth a great first year of high school basketball. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

The future is very bright for the young “Curry” Simon after putting forth a great first year of high school basketball. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

“Stephen Curry is my favorite player, I’d watch his highlights before playing my games. He’s really good at creating off the dribble and hitting fast break threes,” said Simon. There can be a comparison between the two with both being young in their respective leagues and both playing for improving teams.

Simon had big games against big opponents during the season. He scored 26 points against the top-seeded FD Friars in the pre-season game draining six 3-pointers in the process. Against the second best team, the JFK Islanders, Simon netted five 3-pointers for 23 points.

Simon’s younger brother, Taiga, said that his brother is just like Curry and he admires his older brothers shooting technique.

“He’s a pure shooter, I’m more of a Chris Paul type player,” the sixth grader joked. “I look up to him and help him out before games by rebounding for him during his warm ups,” said Taiga Simon. “I’d also like to thank my parents, Gabriel and Yumi, for all their support,” said Takumi Simon.

Even if Takumi and the Knights missed the playoffs this season, one thing they have accomplished was earning the respect from the other teams. Now the challenge for the “Fab Five” is to grow and improve in the off season.

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