Dorsey Sims III: Unearthing Hidden Basketball Diamonds and Gems in Memphis

Dorsey Sims III
Photo Courtesy: Coach Dorsey Sims III

By: Lennard James

In the world of high school basketball, the spotlight often shines on a select few recruits, drawing national attention to their games and potential college careers. Yet, beneath this glare, a wealth of unheralded talent remains unnoticed, awaiting its chance to shine. Recognizing this untapped potential, Memphis-area basketball coach Dorsey Sims III embarked on a mission over 25 years ago to bring attention to these overlooked players through his Diamonds & Gems in the Rough program.  

Coach Sims, with a basketball pedigree dating back to the sport’s inventor, James Naismith, is not seeking the spotlight for superstars. Instead, he has set his sights on those players with something to prove, the ones who often slip through the cracks of college recruitment.  

Raised in a basketball-centric environment, with his father, Dorsey Sims Jr, was a 4 Time Hall of Famer and an Assistant Coach under Larry Finch at Memphis State University.,Sims developed a passion for the game early on. Surrounded by discussions with notable figures like former Tennessee State coach John McClendon and Harlem Globetrotters coach Marcus Haynes, he absorbed invaluable knowledge that would shape his approach to the sport.  

Launching the Diamonds & Gems in the Rough program, Coach Sims personally invites over one hundred players to showcase their skills for exposure. A panel of collegiate coaches then aids in the selection process, narrowing down fifteen unsigned players to embark on East Coast trips designed to boost their visibility and recruitment chances.  

Sims’ extensive knowledge of players comes from his dedicated attendance at numerous high school basketball games in the Mid-South, including the prestigious MLK tournament. The MLK tournament serves as a crucial scouting ground, allowing Sims to identify talent and offer opportunities to those often overlooked.  

This year’s series of trips will take the selected players to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. While the costs for these journeys exceed $30,000, Coach Sims relies on sponsorships and donations, leveraging his network that includes county commissioners, U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen, and others.  

His commitment to helping these young players goes beyond the basketball court. Emphasizing the importance of education, Coach Sims constantly reminds his players that success in academics is the foundation, as the unpredictability of sports can lead to unexpected setbacks.  

Coach Sims’ dedication to the program is evident in his effort to expose the players not only to collegiate-level basketball but also to the work ethic required. Recent collaborative workouts with players from Lemoyne-Owen College showcased the collegiate level of commitment and discipline.  

For former players like Larry McGee, Justin Street and his brother, Martize Briggs, and Jerry Hurt , who now play for the Magicians basketball team at Lemoyne-Owen College, Coach Sims has left an indelible impact. Their first trip to Rucker Park in New York, organized by Coach Sims, played a significant role in shaping their collegiate careers and fostering a strong bond within the team.  

With over 41 years of coaching experience, Coach Sims remains unwavering in his commitment to finding the next Diamonds & Gems in the Rough from Memphis. His tireless efforts, operating on a packed daily schedule, showcase a genuine passion for the game and a dedication to giving overlooked players the chance they deserve.  

“We have a lot of players here that are under-the-radar,” Sims asserts. “They can play; they’re just not given a chance. New York is the Mecca of media; Memphis is the Mecca of basketball.”   

Coach Sims embodies a level of dedication that extends beyond the confines of the basketball court. His commitment is not solely directed towards the players passing through his program; rather, it encompasses the entire community. Coach Sims strives to unite the community, fostering a supportive environment for the young men and women under his guidance. His passion is not only about developing athletes but also about ensuring they receive the necessary support both at home and in their academic pursuits. Through his tireless efforts, Coach Sims exemplifies the belief that success is not solely measured by victories on the court, but by the holistic growth and well-being of every individual within the community he serves.  

For more information on the Diamonds & Gems in the Rough program or to contribute, contact Dorsey Sims III at (901) 644-2004 or All donations are tax-deductible, payable to Dorsey Sims III/On The Scene Sports or through the DS3 Foundation. 

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Published by: Nelly Chavez


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