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Jill Ackerman, the superintendent of Lima (Ohio) City Schools, had an opportunity to watch the Michigan basketball team play Ohio State in February at the Crisler Center, but she was really there for one reason —Zavier Simpson.

Simpson, who went by “Xavier” in high school, attended Lima Senior High and was named Mr. Basketball in Ohio in 2016. He is now a sophomore point guard for the Wolverines who has helped lead them to the Final Four. Michigan plays Loyola-Chicago on Saturday in a national semifinal.

Ackerman wore a specially made T-shirt for the game: “Supporting LSH grad Xavier Simpson.” And this week, that shirt gave her an idea.

It will be “Go Blue for Xavier Simpson Day” on Thursday in the Lima City Schools and students are encouraged to wear Michigan apparel, and if they’re Ohio State fans and can’t stomach that idea, they can wear a solid blue shirt.

“We’re really proud of him,” Ackerman said. “To sit back and watch him play in the Sweet 16 and to hear the commentators said ‘Zavier Simpson from Lima Senior High School in Lima, Ohio,’ he’s put us on the map. We want to support Zavier. We’re all behind him and proud of him.”

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There will be signs up at the school for their favorite son.

When Simpson’s father, Quincy Simpson, became the head basketball coach at Lima Senior, he brought with him the slogan “Family” which Ackerman said has become the school’s mantra.

“That’s how we feel,” Ackerman said. “Whether we are Michigan fans or not, we support him.”

She is certain the students will appear Thursday ready to cheer on Simpson.

“The kids are going to do it,” she said. “They really idolize him. He’s a role model for our kids. We want them to know you can achieve these kinds of dreams. They have to know they can accomplish to if you put your head down and work hard.”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis

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