Jamal Sims couldn’t help but be frustrated.
The senior had prepared for much of the year leading up to a pivotal point last winter — to be the starting point guard and offensive catalyst for a Raiders basketball team he expected to help contend for Class 4A championship. Sims, , was also eager to have a big year individually.
Yet, just one game into the season, Sims’ hopes were quickly dashed, suffering what proved to be a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee during the fourth quarter .
So, rather than having a chance to fulfill his goals, Sims, who attempted an unsuccessful comeback in January, was forced to sit and spend nearly his entire senior season on the bench, watching helplessly as Roosevelt fell just short of a Class 4A title. The Raiders, who finished the year 17-9, lost to Patterson, 67-59, in the Class 4A semifinals.
“It was very frustrating,” Sims said. “And watching any time my team lost was the most frustrating. I was definitely mad I couldn’t play.”
Yet, as mad as he may have been at the time, Sims says he actually now views the injury as a blessing in disguise.
Although he had always been a very good student, and carried a 3.5 GPA at Roosevelt, most of Sims’ life and free time to that point had been committed to basketball, not only playing but also coaching.
But once he got hurt, Sims suddenly found himself branching out and exploring other interests and activities that he had previously been indifferent towards.
“Since getting hurt, I’ve just been venturing into other things,” Sims said. “I’ve found myself just becoming a more well-rounded person.”
Sims, who now plans to attend Florida A&M University as a pre-dental major rather than go to Columbia, says he now spends large amounts of time reading, working on his writing and listening to music. He has even learned how to play the piano as well as how to produce music using a computer program. And he's also started to play the saxophone some, an instrument he hadn’t played since middle school.
He does still hope to pursue a basketball career and plans to join the team at Florida A&M “for fun." But these days, he is much more focused on pursuing his major with the goal of one day opening his own dental practice.
Sims has already lined up an internship at Progressive Dental Solutions in Glenn Dale for next summer, and hopes to intern there all four summers of college.
After college, he wants to attend dental school at either the Howard University College of Dentistry or possibly even at Columbia before becoming a part of Doctors Without Borders, an organization which provides urgent medical care in countries to victims of war and disaster regardless of race, religion, or politics. After that, he plans to return to the United States and start his own practice.
“He’s one of those kids that’s a very good basketball player,” Roosevelt coach Brendan O’Connell said, “but you know that he’s going to be successful with or without basketball. He’s just a good kid with good character. And whenever his basketball career ends, he’s going to be a success."
Right now, though, Sims is just looking forward to beginning his freshman year at Florida A&M.
“I’m definitely anxious to start college,” Sims said. “It’s a little more country there than it is here, but I like it and see it being a place where I’m going to grow both intellectually and as a person.”