Given Kolin Zimmer’s deft aim from the floor so far this season, it’s hard to believe the Jackson County guard was once discouraged from shooting the ball.
Zimmer, a junior transfer averaging 18 points per game and hitting 48 percent from beyond the three-point arc, said long-range shooting was frowned upon under his former coach up north — in Tipp City, Ohio — last year.
“He wanted to run a motion offense and get layups — my coach last year — and he didn’t really like shooters,” Zimmer explained. “So if I would shoot, I would get taken out immediately. This year, being able to shoot, it’s a completely different situation.”
The Ohio team’s loss has been Jackson County’s gain as the 16-year-old has fit right into the Panthers’ plans.
Zimmer, who is from the Dayton area, is one of the big reasons Jackson County is off to an 9-5 start after a five-win season last year. The Ohio transplant’s highlights include a 29-point performance against Hart County in which he hit seven three-pointers.
Zimmer said coach Britt Beaver’s system helps him play to his strengths.
“That’s the kind of game I like to play,” Zimmer said. “I like to drive and pass and shoot, so it’s been fun getting to do what I’m used to doing and am comfortable doing.”
When Zimmer’s family was considering a move to Jackson County, Zimmer’s father contacted Beaver and explained his son’s situation. Beaver learned that Zimmer played a lot of offseason hoops in AAU basketball and was immediately interested.
Beaver also heard that previous coaches didn’t want to let him shoot. Beaver had no such plans for restriction on Zimmer.
“My gosh, we’re going to let him shoot,” Beaver said.
That freedom has allowed Zimmer to showcase his talents and progress nicely as the season has moved along.
Zimmer produced his first 20-point game Dec. 7 against Stephens County, then poured-in 29 a week later against Hart County. He also had a huge role in the Panthers’ Dec. 17 victory over Jefferson, hitting five three-pointers and scoring 19 points.
Beaver said Zimmer’s smooth mechanics and quick release make him a tough shooter to guard.
“His mechanics are excellent,” Beaver said.
At the same time, Zimmer isn’t a volume shooter, jacking-up three-pointers at will. Beaver said one of the major pluses to Zimmer’s game is that it comes within the framework of the Panthers’ offense, with him coming off screens and getting good looks from beyond the arc.
The addition of Zimmer has meant better looks at the basket for Jackson County’s other scorers as well. Jarvis Shaw is averaging over 11 points per game while Alex Crawford is just under 10. Zimmer explained the Panthers’ multitude of options.
“If I start shooting them or Jarvis starts making them, they’ll start stopping us and Alex (Crawford) will make a few, or we’ll give it down to Ben (Weaver) and he’ll make a few and then Jared (Scott) will step up,” Zimmer said. “We’ve had a lot of guys step up this year.”
Outside basketball, Zimmer plays baseball, but hoops are his primary passion. He said he comes from a basketball family.
“My dad will come out and work with me,” Zimmer said. “We play basketball a lot. That’s one of the things my family does. I have three younger siblings and all of us play basketball.”
Zimmer hopes to eventually earn a college scholarship in basketball.
Until then, Zimmer — now free from shooting restraint — is finding his niche with his new teammates and adding to the Panthers’ overall chemistry.
“He’s a very unselfish player,” Beaver said. “He’s a very humble kid. He’s a very good kid.”