Every year, players’ shadows grow longer in preparation for the draft. As publicists push their agendas and journalists hyperbolize in pursuit of a good story, players become inflated far beyond their true value. Overhyped players come into the league and then disappear as quickly as they arrived. This is often the case with High School prodigies – and yet, there are those few individuals who truly deserve the praise. There are those few athletes whose legends stack up to their reality. Power forward Ben Simmons is one of those players.
Simmons was born in Melbourne, Austalia. He first played internationally at the age of fifteen, representing his country in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship. In one game, he put up 26-points and 10-rebounds; a double-double that marked the beginning of a trend that would continue throughout his career. The year after his FIBA appearance, Simmons moved to the United States. By the time he was a junior, Simmons was named the best player in his class – and that was just the beginning.
Before leaving High School to attend Louisiana State University, Simmons played in the McDonald’s All-American Game, won the Morgan Wooten Award for outstanding leadership, the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award and was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year. As Simmons entered college, ESPN had him ranked as the #1 player in the nation.
Most 19 year olds might bow under all that pressure, but not Simmons. Since starting at LSU, he has averaged 19.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. That’s his average. His individual stat lines can be even crazier: on December 2, Simmons put up 43 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks.
The craziest part is that it’s not all hype. Luc Longley, coach for the Australian national team and Michael Jordan’s former teammate on the Chicago Bulls, has confirmed the rumors.
“(Simmons) has all the basic ingredients to get everyone excited and make him a superstar,” Longley told the Sydney Morning Herald. “And when we’ve had him in camps he’s shown interest in defense, which not a lot of prodigies do. I think the hype is warranted. He’s an incredibly exciting player.”
The young power forward possesses a killer instinct and has all the necesarry skills to do something about it. Players like Simmons raise the bar for everyone around them, and that’s not only great new for LSU, it’s great for all basketball fans.
It may be too early to talk about Ben Simmons NBA career, but it’s important to note that non-US players are incredibly important in a league that’s so acutely focused on international expansion.
Ben Simmons is a special type of player, but you don’t have to take my word for it – just watch him play.