COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Forgive the cliché, but some decisions can only best be summarized as "when you know, you know."
That moment of epiphany became clear for Gahanna's Javan Simmons and his college decision after he and his parents had a discussion while traveling this past weekend to a family reunion.
Once they arrived to a relative's home in Pittsburgh and settled in, Simmons didn't pay much mind that the time was already past midnight and creeping into the early hours of Saturday morning. He was ready to make a decision.
The rising senior picked up the phone and called Toledo assistant coach Walter Offutt and had a direct message.
"Coach, I'm committed."
The passionate and direct decision coincides well with the type of player Simmons is on the floor. The six-foot-seven forward is a ferocious and physical post that helped lead Gahanna to the top overall seed in the 2021 Central District tournament and a regional runner-up finish. Talent and athleticism aside, its Simmons style of play and intensity that led the Toledo coaching staff to heavily recruit the forward over the last eight months.
Simmons received an offer from the Rockets on December 20, a day after the coaching staff saw him put up 15 points in a dominating win over Toledo Central Catholic.
"[Toledo] coach Kowalczyk was my first offer and they were consistent, they never fell off," Simmons said. "The coaches are great people and at the same time, they say 'we're gonna work.' At the end of the day, that led to my decision."
Simmons chose the Rockets over offers from IUPUI, Kent State, Liberty and Miami (OH).
Simmons' father, Malcolm, noticed the extra attention Javan received from the Rockets. "We heard from them the most," Malcolm said. "Always a letter, mail, something from them weekly."
That type of commitment stood out to Simmons, a player whose commitment to strong effort and willingness to win is never questioned. It's also a similar type of commitment and trust that allowed Simmons to know coach Offutt would answer his call at any given hour.
"When [Offutt] answered, it seemed like he was wide awake," Simmons said. "He just said, 'Javan, what's going on?'"
For any coaches that wish to disrupt Simmons' commitment to the Rockets, it would be a waste of time. Simmons plans to officially sign in November and other coaches "can't do anything about that," Simmons said. "I won't do coach K or coach Walt dirty like that. Can't."
Simmons becomes the first Central Ohio player from the 2022 class to announce a college decision. Now with the recruitment process complete, Simmons can focus his energy on the upcoming senior season for Gahanna, a team that is widely expected to win the Division I region.
An opportunity to represent the region would mean a little more to Simmons and his teammates, especially after the heartbreaking defeat the Lions experienced in last year's regional finals when Westerville Central won on a half-court buzzer beater.
"It would be a great comeback story," Simmons said. "[A state championship] is our goal and I feel strongly that we can do it."
While a state championship is the ultimate goal, Simmons' goal to play Division I collegiate basketball has now come to fruition, something that both he and his father started to believe could be achieved during his freshman season when he was at Bishop Hartley.
"My freshman year, I played with Morgan Safford (now a rising sophomore at Wofford University) and he told me I could be great if I put in the work," Simmons said. "When I got to Gahanna, coach Staib led me to believe I could be a Division I player with the right work."
While Malcolm reflects on all the hard work his son put in over the years, he can't help but think about the moment when he and his wife, Anitra, can watch Javan play at Toledo.
"We're going to walk into Savage Arena and our son is going to play college basketball. That's very exciting for us," Malcolm said. "I'm so proud of [Javan]."
With Javan's relentless passion and commitment, the future Rocket should have plenty more opportunities to make his family and coaches proud.