If you don’t know who Ben Simmons is, you will Thursday night. The LSU point guard will likely be selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The question to be answered isn’t so much if Philadelphia will take him – it’s whether or not he will become the new face of 76ers basketball for years to come.
Like many top NBA picks, Simmons was a “one and done” player who dominated in his only year in college. Standing at 6’10′, 230 lbs. and possessing out-of-this-world athleticism, Simmons has been a top NBA prospect since his junior year of high school. What also makes Simmons Unique is he is one of very few NBA prospects to come from Australia.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Simmons is the son of an Australian mother and American father. His father, Dave, was a basketball legend in Australia, where he played 13 seasons for the Melbourne Tigers. Having had the luxury of watching his dad play as a child, Simmons naturally gravitated toward the game of basketball – and began doing quite well. His development into one of the top young talents in the world quickly caught the attention of American coaches. Before long, Simmons would have a plane ticket booked to the United States, where he would take his abilities to a whole other level.
Coming from Australia, Simmons has had to deal with a lot of adversity since making the move to America. People often questioned whether he was good enough to play with kids from the United States. Could he hold his own? Or was he just a big fish in a small pond? Simmons transferred to Montverde Academy, one of the best high school programs in the country, believing the move would further prove how good of a basketball player he was. At Montverde, he was better than anyone could have imagined. There, he won three consecutive National High School Championships while being named the 2015 Naismith and Gatorade National Player of the Year.
After dominating high school basketball, some still wondered if he was tough enough mentally and physically to play elite college basketball. Once again, he silenced any doubters by having one of the best seasons a freshman has ever had at the D-1 level. In his only year at LSU, Simmons averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists on his way to being named a First Team All-American. All of these accomplishments plus his willingness to improve as a player have made him the obvious choice for the #1 pick.
Ever since Allen Iverson’s departure, Philadelphia has been longing for a player who could make the 76ers compete again at the highest level. As the 2016 NBA Draft approaches, it’s Simmons who will likely be given the reins to steer the franchise that direction. Throughout his high school and college career, Simmons has proven that he possesses the necessary Skill and leadership to transform such a team. Once again, we must tell Philadelphia fans to “trust the process.” Ben Simmons is well worth the wait.
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Posted 23 June 2016