George Mason basketball coach Kim English adds to staff
Now entering his seventh season with the Green & Gold, Simpkins will continue to impact the program with his player development skills and DMV recruiting prowess while providing guidance during the staff’s transition to Fairfax.
“I’ve always had the utmost respect for Coach Simpkins,” English said. “I admire his illustrious career as a prep player, as a collegian and how he’s cut his teeth in the professional ranks. For years I’ve appreciated the way he carries himself in this business. When talking to people I respect in this region and in our game, I’ve heard nothing but GREAT things about ‘Simp,’ and many of these glowing reports about his character and integrity were unsolicited. Most of all, as I got to know our players, it was clear how much they all loved, admired and appreciated Duane Simpkins. I’m excited to have him and his family as a part of what we’re building here at Mason.”
One of the most respected assistants in the national coaching ranks, Silverwaves Media named Simpkins as one of the country’s Top-50 Most Impactful Mid-Major Assistants in 2020. In addition, he has earned an invite to Top Connect – which brings premier athletic directors and assistant coaches together – in each of the past two seasons. At the 2019 Final Four, he also participated in the Collegiate Coaching Consortium, sponsored by AthleticDirectorU and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
“I’m extremely excited to work with Coach English and the rest of the staff that he has put in place to move the George Mason basketball program forward,” Simpkins said. “Coach English’s clear strategic vision for our program, coupled with his tremendous enthusiasm for the welfare and development of our student-athletes on and off the court, jumped out at me from our very first conversation. To be a part of the process to make that vision come to fruition has given me a renewed enthusiasm for what I’m passionate about – that’s recruiting, mentoring, developing, and retaining talented student-athletes here at George Mason.
“I’m beyond thrilled to be able to continue working with the young men on our roster. There is a genuine love that I have developed with each and every player and their families and I am happy that I will be able continue to help develop all of our young men to be the best people, students, and players that they can be.”
Simpkins has helped guide the Patriots to a series of new program bests within the Atlantic 10 during his time in Fairfax as an assistant coach and associate head coach this past season.
Mason set or matched A-10 program bests in league wins and tournament seeds in three seasons during his tenure.
In 2018-19, Simpkins and the Patriots set current school records for Atlantic 10 victories (11) and Atlantic 10 road wins (5) while matching the program’s best ever A-10 Tournament seed (5th). After winning the program’s first ever A-10 Tournament game in 2016-17, the Patriots have now won a league championship contest in five consecutive seasons and the Patriots have finished in the top-6 of the A-10 in three of the past four campaigns.
In 2019-20, Simpkins and the Patriots set a new program record with 11 non-conference victories and captured the Cayman Islands Classic Tournament title.
Simpkins has played a major role in the program’s culture of player development. During his time at Mason, a Patriot has won the A-10 Most Improved Player Award in three of the past five seasons. That group includes Marquise Moore, Justin Kier and AJ Wilson.
Simpkins also has mentored four All-A-10 players (Moore, Wilson, Kier and Otis Livingston II) and an All-A-10 Defensive Team selection in Wilson. This past season, Wilson became Mason’s all-time leader in blocked shots.
Simpkins helped orchestrate one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball in 2016-17, as the Patriots improved their win total from 11 to 20. The Patriots posted nine A-10 victories in his second season with the staff.
A former standout at Maryland and local native, Simpkins joined the Patriots after three seasons with the UNCG Spartans, where he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. In his first full season, Simpkins brought in seven newcomers for the 2013-14 season marking the first full recruiting class for head coach Wes Miller. The highly-touted recruiting class featured three All-State selections from North Carolina including Clay Byrd and Diante Baldwin.
Quickly becoming known for his recruiting efforts, Simpkins also helped recruit the Maryland Player of the Year from Baltimore, Tevon Saddler, a year removed from signing another Baltimore standout in top-returning scorer Kayel Locke. That class provided the foundation for UNCG’s 2018 SoCon Championship and NCAA Tournament Team.
In 2013-14, Simpkins helped the Spartans record their most wins in a single-season since 2007-08 with 14 victories. In that same year, UNCG picked up just its second all-time victory against an ACC opponent, defeating Virginia Tech.
In all, Simpkins developed seven All-SoCon players during his time in Greensboro.
Simpkins arrived at UNCG after serving one year under Pat Skerry at Towson as the coordinator of basketball operations.
Prior to Towson, Simpkins was a head coach at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. from 2007-11 and at Sidwell Friends School from 2005-07. While at Sidwell Friends, he led the Quakers to a 16-0 league record and the program’s first conference title in 40 years. Simpkins also served as an assistant coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., in 1999-2000.
A DMV basketball legend, Simpkins earned McDonald’s High School All-America honors at DeMatha Catholic High School under legendary Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten. He was just the third freshman to make DeMatha’s varsity team.
He was a three-time honorable mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at Maryland, helping the Terrapins to three NCAA appearances, including a pair of Sweet 16 showings. A three-year starter and captain under coach Gary Williams from 1992-96, Simpkins finished his career with 1,123 points over his 119-game career. He was a career 81.2 percent free throw shooter and his 483 career assists rank him seventh on the Terrapins’ all-time list.
Simpkins was an assistant compliance administrator at his alma mater in 2004-05 following a professional playing career that took him to China, Italy, the Dominican, France and Belgium, as well as the United States. Simpkins, who concluded his professional career with the Shandong Tigers in Shandong, China, played in the USBL and the ABA in the U.S. from 2000-02. He also played with the Memphis Grizzlies in the Summer Pro League.
The owner and director of “Power Through Sports” camps and clinics in Washington, Simpkins also has served as a basketball analyst for Comcast SportsNet.
Simpkins and his wife, Kirsten, have three children – Kai, Darian and Elijah.