When searching for what makes each women’s basketball team in the National Christian College Athletic Association unique, characteristics of the players, coaches, styles of play and levels of experience start to appear.
For the Simmons College of Kentucky Falcons, their different game plans and mix of first-year and championship level competitors make them easy to cheer for in the 2022-23 season.
Head Coach Daniel Price’s Experience
Price played a key role in revamping the program at Simmons College that had never participated in a full season. He brought his deep knowledge of the game to the Falcons in 2021 and kicked off the school’s first full women’s season in 2022.
Before he even began his coaching career, Price played basketball for the University of Pikeville where he became a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All American.
Price continued his basketball career upon graduation with different professional leagues. He played in the Continental Basketball Association and in 2005 he joined the NBA D-League, now known as the G-League.
On the coaching side, Price spent time as an assistant coach at the University of Pikeville from 2006-08, previously known as Pikeville College. Between 2008 and 2021, Price coached at a number of colleges and high schools while running his company, Overtime Performance Development Skills.
His connection and dedication to basketball makes rooting for the Falcons that much easier.
The Falcons’ style of play
Price puts a lot of emphasis on playing fast and pressing up and down the court for 40 minutes.
“We call our system ‘Inferno’ because that’s a hot and terrible place,” he said. “We’re trying to make it as uncomfortable as possible and try to make them play a lot faster than what they’re used to.”
Playing in transition as much as possible and shooting the ball more than any other team drives the Falcons in their games.
“We work on every aspect of the game as much as possible,” Price said.
The Falcons also do not shy away from shooting 3-pointers. Price notes that senior Zephaniah Gray, junior Jayla Johnson, sophomore Jabriel Kelly and freshman Andrea Seay can reliably drain shots from the three-point line.
The college’s history
Simmons College is the nation’s 101st Historically Black College University and the only one in the city of Louisville, Ky. It is also one of two HBCUs in the whole state.
“That’s the most unique thing about us,” Price said.
The school’s website states that the proposal for Kentucky’s first post-secondary educational institute for its Black citizens came in 1865. The land for the campus was purchased in 1879 and called the Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute.
Zephaniah Gray or “Zephy”
Senior guard Zephaniah Gray, better known as “Zephy,” serves as a top leader and scorer for the Falcons.
Gray transferred to Simmons College after winning an NCAA Division II National Championship at Glenville State University last season.
Gray contributes with her tough defense and elite ball handling skills. She also leads the team in points (14.4) and assists (3) per game.
“She’s basically the leader on the floor,” Price said. “The offense kind of flows through her.”
Andrea Seay gives the Falcons another scoring option and versatile defender. Price said the freshman from Georgia “doesn’t even know how good she could be.”
Standing at 5-foot-8 with solid athleticism, Seay can guard and play almost every position on the court.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Falcons faced the 2021-22 Mideast Regional Champions Campbellsville University Harrodsburg in a tough 81-80 loss. Seay had 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Sophomore center Naria Reed, the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-1, dominates in the paint on both ends of the court for Simmons College.
But more surprisingly and impressively, Price said, “she can actually step out and knock down a three.”
Reed spent her freshman year playing basketball at Olney Central College before heading over to the Falcons. When she arrived at Simmons College, Price said she asked for a big role on the team...and he gave it to her.
Mindset and future
One of the many great things about Simmons College comes from the mindset as a new and improved program in the NCCAA.
“I think we have a good chance at winning the region and making the national tournament this year,” Price said. “These girls are in a position to create their own history because they’re so new.”
For every team Price has ever coached, completing the extremely difficult task of winning a championship during the first season tops his list of goals.
“I hold them to that expectation,” he said. “These young ladies have an opportunity to make an impact and build something special.”
Many characteristics go into what makes the women's basketball team at Simmons so admirable. Learning about the college’s history, what makes the team flow and the many faces behind the Falcons’ fresh restart bring out more and more reasons to root for their success.
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