Stingers basketball rookie Olivier Simon talks about his career
That is who Stingers men’s basketball rookie Olivier Simon was quick to name when asked who he models his game after.
“I first saw him in [the movie] Space Jam. I started reading all of his books,” Simon said. “He was the greatest player to ever play in the NBA. He was the model to follow… playing hard, working hard. It’s the only way you can get to this point.”
Standing at six-foot-seven and tipping the scale at about 220 lbs, it would be easy to assume that basketball was something the Terrebonne native was always good at. However, as a youngster, Simon played hockey until he was introduced to basketball at the age of 10.
“The basketball coach [at the time] was a really good guy,” Simon said. “He was there in the gym at six o’clock in the morning before class to help kids [play] because, at that age, we have a lot of energy.”
Simon added that participating in those extracurricular activities is what lead him to embrace the game of basketball. He developed a passion for the game which lead him to CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit, despite it being about an hour away from his hometown.
“[Édouard-Montpetit] was the only one that recruited me,” Simon said. “If it wasn’t for that school, I would have probably stopped basketball.”
After three years of relative success in CEGEP, Simon had plenty of offers to play at the collegiate level.
The five Quebec university teams—McGill, Bishop’s, Laval, UQAM and Concordia, all wanted to recruit Simon. Simon said he chose Concordia because of the atmosphere and head coach Rastko Popovic set the school apart from the others.. For Simon, everything just seemed to fall into place.
“The team is young—we’re going to build together. I have five years, so that was a big point,” Simon said. “When I talk with coach Popovic, it’s easy. We have the same mentality when it comes to basketball.”
“Saying that he trusted me was the biggest thing you can say to prove to a guy you want him,” Simon added.
When he is not on the court, the rookie forward describes himself as an easygoing person who likes to hangout with friends and family. He particularly likes movies, claiming he watches “lots of Netflix” when he has time.
Besides training on and off the court and juggling his social life, Simon is enrolled in the leisure science program.
“It’s nice. I have a communication and psychology class that I like,” Simon said. “It’s not like math or science with all the numbers. It’s really concrete. We get to know more about us—how we think, how we interact.”
Simon said he wants no part in sitting at a desk with a computer for the rest of his life. He wants to work primarily with kids and be able to give back to the community. He said ideally he would like to stay involved in basketball and even become a part of the program at Concordia.
Simon has already helped make an impact with the Stingers this year, aided by a strong work ethic which he feels came to him early in his career.
“[My work ethic] came from my high school. The CEGEP I went to was the only one that recruited me because, in high school, I wasn’t that good of a player. I always worked hard to get what I want,” Simon said. “It wasn’t always easy to go on the court and do what I have to. I had to overwork. It’s always been like that.”
The Terrebonne native said he knows what his role on the Stingers team is. While he may not play 40 minutes a night, he wants to continue to improve on the little things, each and every game.
Looking towards the future, Simon said he would love to go pro at some point.
“That would be a huge experience,” Simon said.
For now though, Simon is more focused on the Stingers and his university career. He hopes that, while he’s at Concordia, the team can win a championship. Simon would also like to be a leader.
“In my fourth and fifth year, I want to set an example for the new recruits. Like, when they’ll come in the gym, I want them to see me and do the same things because I want everybody to work as hard,” said Simon.