Ever since he set foot on an American high school, Ben Simmons became a household name in the US.
Now, after his collegiate debut with Louisiana State University, everyone can see what all the hysteria has been about.
Born in Melbourne thanks to his American father Dave Simmons’ professional career in the NBL, Ben followed in his dad’s footsteps and played his junior basketball in Melbourne, for his school, Box Hill Secondary College.
An Australian Institute of Sport scholarship was unsurprisingly presented and Simmons attended the famed AIS basketball program in 2012.
With his game – and stature – growing remarkably, Simmons relocated to America to play at highly acclaimed prep school, Montverde Academy in Florida.
Simmons sophomore season at Montverde – his first in the States – ended with a National Championship trophy as did the following two seasons.
With his high school career complete and countless trophies and awards in hand, Simmons entered the college ranks as the number one overall player in the nation, as judged by ESPN.com as well as many other accredited collegiate writers.
Simmons chose LSU – over typical powerhouses such as Kentucky and Duke – because his God Father David Patrick was an assistant coach as well as the fact that he thoroughly enjoyed his visit to the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Patrick has been instrumental in numerous successful Australian’s progressing to the college system, namely Patrick Mills and Matthew Dellavedova when they headed to Saint Mary’s in California.
At that time, Patrick was also an assistant coach with the Gaels, leading to them landing Mills and Dellavedova – both now quality NBA performers.
Having spent three years in the US, Simmons took the entire basketball camp tour as many of the top prospects do.
The 6-10″ forward attended the highly acclaimed Nike Hoop Summit and NBAPA Top 100 camp.
After a whirlwind and outrageously successful high school career, Simmons was due to land at LSU for what is likely going to be a one-season splash and dash before entering the NBA as one of the top players in the draft.
LSU has had its fair share of great players go through its doors despite being recognised nationally as a football powerhouse as it competes in the Southeastern Conference against foes like Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn.
Today, with one collegiate game in the bank, we now know what all the hype has been about regarding Simmons.
A ‘point forward’ in the mould of Scottie Pippen or even LeBron James, Simmons displays the ability to do everything on a basketball court.
His height and reach allows him to defend anyone whilst his athletic prowess and vision make him a remarkable passer and scorer when he attacks the basket.
His jump shooting will continue to develop but is likely better than any of us give him credit for – as we all find it necessary to critique his already complete game.
On debut with the Tigers facing McNeese State, Simmons started the game and looked eager to get his team mates involved with an array of dazzling passes in the first half.
The majority of his scoring came off of offensive rebounds and alley-oops, having the crowd in raptures displaying his sensational all-around game.
LSU won 81-70 and Simmons had the solid, if not jaw-dropping stat line of 11 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and two blocked shots.
His scoring will likely increase as the competition improves but if he can maintain that level of rebounding and playmaking then the hype will only grow as the NCAA season fires up.
Simmons has already represented Australia in senior international play and alongside last year’s top draft pick Dante Exum, looks set to carry the Boomers Olympic medal hopes for the next decade or more.
Hundreds of millions of dollars awaits in the NBA and commercially but at the moment, Ben is a 19-year old Australian attending college in the United States like dozens of others across dozens of schools.
Thankfully, Simmons’ LSU games will be broadcast exclusively to ESPN all season long so whilst you have the chance, catch him before he is the next LeBron, Pippen or Penny.
Take a peek at these YouTube mixes to see just what all the hype is about.