Ben Simmons in 2015 McDonald’s High School All-American Game

“Unbelievable Talent”.  Analysts, scouts, and fans aren’t the only people saying that about Ben Simmons. The one who made news by recently saying it. Only the greatest player on the earth in LeBron James. James was recently quoted as saying that about the 19 year old who was born in Melbourne, Australia. While comparisons to LeBron James seems unfair, the LSU freshmen is the top talent to play in college since Anthony Davis won a national championship with the University of Kentucky in 2012.

The eventual road he took to Baton Rouge, Louisiana was not as typical as most top players his age. At age 15, he led Australia to a silver medal at the FIBA Under-17 World Championships. Then came the big high school decision. The now 6’10” 225 pound SF/PF lefty headed to high school powerhouse Montverde Academy in Florida. The new head coach for Montverde at the time of Simmons arrival was Kevin Boyle.

This author had seen Boyle’s teams play for years being a New Jersey resident. Before making the move to Florida, Boyle was the head coach of New Jersey power Saint Patrick High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Boyle coached current NBA players Kyrie Irving and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the same team. Boyle’s move to Montverde created a new national power. His first star player? D’Angelo Russell, the number 2 pick (Los Angeles Lakers) in the 2015 draft. His second star player? Ben Simmons, who along with Russell put the beautiful Florida High School on the national high school map by winning 3 consecutive National High School Championships, which were all played at Madison Square Garden.

Simmons was so dominant in his senior year he received numerous awards:

  1. Gatorade National Player of the Year (2015)
  2. Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2015)
  3. McDonald’s All-American (2015)
  4. First Team Parade All-American (2015)

Simmons road to LSU was paved by David Foster, who is an assistant coach with the Tigers. He also happens to be the 19 year old’s god-father. Throughout the first month of the college basketball season Simmons has clearly been the best player in the nation.

One stat line this year provides proof of the all-around talent Ben Simmons is. 43PTS, 14REB, 7AST, 5STL, and 3BLK in a win over North Florida on December 7, 2015. It is the versatility of his game that makes him so unique. The very good outside shooting, ball-handling, defense, being ambidextrous around the rim. and passing is a rare sight among players that tall and young.

  That versatility has made him the envy of NBA scouts as he is practically assured (barring injury) of being at least a top 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Simmons was also my Pre-Season Player of the Year.https://inthegymrange.com/my-preseason-college-all-america-team-2

Throughout the first 7 games of the 2015-16 season Simmons is averaging 19.9PTS, 14.9REB, 6AST, 1.6BLK, while playing 35.6 minutes per game (out of 40). These overall numbers haven’t been seen in the college game in years. Coincidentally, the former college and NBA player who I compare Ben Simmons to the most and also had similar stats to is Danny Manning.

The star of the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks National Championship Team and former number 1 overall pick (1988) was a college legend and was destined for NBA greatness. Injuries derailed his NBA career but there was no question Manning had all the attributes of a star.

While LSU hasn’t been among the upper echelon of college basketball in recent years, it has had its share of elite players. Shaquille O’Neal, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, and Bob Petit are examples of the talent it has produced.

Can Ben Simmons reach that elite level status of LSU and NBA greatness? Only time will tell. However, barring injury Ben Simmons can be as good as he wants to be.

article was written on 12-11-15