Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons

No. 25 Philadelphia 76ers
Position Forward
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1996-07-20) 20 July 1996
Melbourne, Victoria
Nationality Australian
Listed height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school Montverde Academy
(Montverde, Florida)
College LSU (2015–2016)
NBA draft 2016 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers
Playing career 2016–present
Career history
2016–present Philadelphia 76ers
Career highlights and awards

Benjamin David Simmons (born 20 July 1996) is an Australian professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A versatile forward from Melbourne, Simmons attended Box Hill Senior Secondary College before moving to the United States to attend Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida. He played one season of college basketball for Louisiana State University (LSU), where he was named a consensus first-team All-American and the USBWA National Freshman of the Year. Simmons was selected with the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft by the 76ers, becoming the third Melbourne-born number one overall pick in 11 years. He has also represented the Australian national team.

Early life

Simmons was born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, to American father Dave and Australian mother Julie. When his parents met in 1991, Julie was a divorced single mother with four children—Melissa, Emily, Liam and Sean. After their marriage in 1994, they added Olivia and Ben to their family. Even though the six children have two different biological fathers, and their age span is 15 years (Melissa to Ben), they were raised as if they were full siblings.[1][2] Dave is a Melbourne Tigers legend who came to the National Basketball League from the United States in 1989 after playing college basketball for Oklahoma City University.[3]

Simmons was raised in Newcastle from the age of 18 months, while his father played and coached in the city. Simmons began playing basketball at the age of seven in the Newcastle Hunters' under-12 representative team and played two more years for Lake Macquarie and Newcastle.[4] While in Newcastle, he also played junior rugby league for the Western Suburbs and South Newcastle in the Newcastle Rugby League, a local rugby league.[5]

At the age of 10, Simmons returned to Melbourne with his family and began playing junior basketball for the Knox Raiders.[6] Along with basketball, he also played Australian rules football at the junior level for the Beverley Hills Junior Football Club and won a number of team and league best and fairest awards. In grade 7, while attending Whitefriars College, Simmons was named MVP after he helped Whitefriars win the Year-7 Division 1A Basketball premiership.[7]

At the age of 14, Simmons was torn between his two sporting loves of basketball and Australian rules football, but eventually decided to focus on basketball.[8][9][10] Simmons later revealed it was his football coach's decision to play him in the position of ruckman that swayed his decision to pursue basketball.[3] The following year in grade 9, at the age of 15, he played basketball for Box Hill Senior Secondary College at the 2011 Australian Schools Championships[5] before taking up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in 2012.[11] Later that year, despite still being 15 years of age, he was chosen to represent Australia at the FIBA Under-17 World Championship and helped his team win the silver medal.[5] Simmons' tournament highlights included a 26-point, 10-rebound, 5-steal outing against the Czech Republic.[12]

High school career

Sophomore year

In January 2013, Simmons moved to Montverde, Florida, to attend Montverde Academy, where he immediately started playing for them. In April 2013, he helped Montverde rally from a 16-point deficit to beat New Jersey's St Benedict's 67–65 in the final of the High School National Tournament.[5] After competing in the Jordan Brand Classic International Game,[13] he returned to Melbourne where he joined the Bulleen Boomers of the Big V competition in June 2013.[14] He played six games for Bulleen while averaging 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.[15]

Junior year

Simmons returned to Montverde Academy for his junior season in 2013–14. On the season, Simmons averaged 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 69 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line. He recorded 88 blocks as well. Montverde finished the season with a 28–0 record, closing with a 71–62 victory over Oak Hill Academy in the High School National Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Simmons had 24 points and 12 rebounds as he earned MVP honours.[16][17] Following the season, he was named America's top high school junior and was voted MVP at the National Basketball Players' Association Top 100 camp.[18]

Senior year

On 12 November 2014, Simmons signed a National Letter of Intent to play college basketball for Louisiana State University.[16]

On 28 January 2015, Simmons was named as a starter for the East team to compete in the 38th annual McDonald's All-American Game.[19][20] On 10 March 2015, he was named the Morgan Wootten Award winner, given annually to the best male McDonald's All-American player who exemplifies outstanding character, exhibits leadership, and embodies the values of being a student-athlete in the classroom and in the community. In doing so, he became just the second player from a Florida high school to win the award behind Austin Rivers in 2011.[21] He was then named the Naismith Prep Player of the Year on 12 March[22] and the Gatorade National Player of the Year on 24 March after leading the Eagles to a 28–1 record and a berth in the High School National Tournament for the third straight year.[23] In 29 regular season games, he averaged 28.0 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game while shooting 70.7 percent from the field and recording 24 double-doubles.[23]

Simmons at a closed McDonald's All-American practice

After competing in the 2015 McDonald's All-American Game on 1 April, Simmons led Montverde Academy to a third consecutive High School National Tournament title with a 70–61 win over Oak Hill Academy on 4 April at Madison Square Garden. He again earned MVP honours after recording 58 points and 35 rebounds over the three-day tournament.[24][25] He then competed in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit for the World Team on 11 April and scored 13 points in a 103–101 win over Team USA.[26]

Considered a five-star recruit by, Simmons was listed as the No. 1 power forward and the No. 1 player in the nation in 2015.[27]

College career

Entering his freshman year of college, Simmons began his career in Australia on a four-stop national tour with the LSU Tigers men's basketball team. Relishing the opportunity to show his teammates where it all began for him,[28] Simmons made his debut for LSU on 15 August in an 89–75 win over the Newcastle All-Stars in the first game of LSU's preseason Australia trip. His double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds led the way for the Tigers, playing at the Newcastle Basketball Stadium where his father played professionally for the Newcastle Falcons in the late 1990s.[29] The Tigers completed their five-game Australian tour with a 3–2 record, and over the five games, Simmons averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game to lead the team in all major statistical categories.[30][31] Upon returning to the United States, Simmons was featured on the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook 35th anniversary cover,[32] was named the SEC's Preseason Player of the Year,[33] and earned Associated Press preseason All-America team honours.[34] His Preseason Player of the Year honour made him just the second freshman to earn the award, joining Kentucky's Julius Randle in 2013, and his All-America team honour made him just the fourth freshman to be honoured on the preseason team.[34]

On 13 November 2015, Simmons made his college debut in LSU's season opener, recording a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds as a starter in a win over McNeese State.[35] He helped LSU start the season 3–0 before recording 21 points, 20 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals in a loss to Marquette on 23 November.[36] On 2 December, he helped LSU break a three-game losing streak by recording 43 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks in a 119–108 win over North Florida. His 43 points were the most for a Tigers player since Shaquille O'Neal had 43 against Northern Arizona on 28 December 1991.[37] After recording 14 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Kentucky on 5 January 2016, Simmons was dubbed the best all-round player since LeBron James by NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.[38] On 11 February, he was named to the 35-man midseason watchlist for the Naismith Trophy.[39] Nine days later, Simmons came off the bench for the first time after being removed from LSU's starting line-up for their game against Tennessee due to academic reasons.[40] Following the conclusion of the regular season, Simmons was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference and the league's Freshman of the Year on the 2016 Coaches SEC voting. He was also named to the eight-player All-SEC Freshman team.[41]

As the fourth seed in the 2016 SEC Tournament, Simmons helped LSU (18–13) defeat Tennessee in the quarter-finals to move on to the semi-finals where they faced first-seeded Texas A&M. LSU bowed out of the tournament with a demoralising 71–38 loss to the Aggies, as Simmons was unsuccessful in leading the Tigers to an NCAA tournament berth.[42] Simmons completed the 2015–16 season having played in 33 games with 32 starts. He led the team in all major statistical categories except three-point and free throw shooting, finishing with averages of 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocks in 34.9 minutes per game, while shooting 56.0% from the field, 33.3% from three-point range and 67.0% from the free throw line.[43]

Following the announcement of the NCAA tournament field, with LSU failing to earn a bid, Tigers head coach Johnny Jones announced that the team would not play in any postseason tournament. On 21 March 2016, Simmons declared for the 2016 NBA draft, forgoing his final three years of college eligibility.[44] He withdrew from school at the conclusion of the season with plans to move immediately to Phoenix, Arizona in advance of the NBA draft.[45] He also signed with American sports agency Klutch Sports, which is primarily owned by Rich Paul.[46][47]

College statistics

2015–16 LSU 33 32 34.9 .560 .333 .670 11.8 4.8 2.0 .8 19.2

Professional career

Philadelphia 76ers (2016–present)

In the week leading up to the 2016 NBA draft, Simmons' attitude and character were questioned by a number of NBA media analysts.[48] Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown, former Australian national team coach and a friend of the Simmons family, repudiated the claims being made and was content with Simmons' pre-draft behaviour.[48] On 23 June, he was selected by Brown and the 76ers with the number one overall pick in the 2016 draft.[49] On 3 July, he signed his rookie scale contract with the 76ers and joined the team for the 2016 NBA Summer League.[50] While he shot the ball poorly during his first three Summer League games, Simmons was praised for his court awareness and passing ability for a big man.[51] He went on to be named in the All-Las Vegas Summer League First Team,[52] and in six Summer League games, he averaged 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.[53]

On 30 September 2016, Simmons rolled his right ankle during the 76ers' final training camp scrimmage. After receiving an X-ray and MRI of the foot and ankle, it was determined that Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot,[54] and was estimated to miss three to four months.[55]

National team career

After participating in the Australian Boomers camp ahead of the Sino-Australia Challenge in June 2013, Simmons went on to make his senior debut for Australia in the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship against New Zealand, a month after his 17th birthday. He subsequently scored four total points in the two-game series.[56]

In July 2014, Simmons was added to the Boomers extended squad for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.[57] However, he was later cut from the squad as he did not make the final 12-man roster.[58] In August 2015, Simmons signaled his intentions to represent Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics and said he was aiming to win a medal.[59] However, in April 2016, Simmons instead decided to not join the Boomers for the Rio Olympics in order to concentrate on preparing for his rookie season in the NBA.[60] Following the announcement of his decision to skip the 2016 Olympics, Simmons was asked if he will ever play international basketball again and responded, "Definitely. I will play for Australia again when the time is right."[61]

Personal life

Simmons' brother Liam is an assistant coach for the Southwest Baptist Bearcats men's basketball team.[62] His sister Emily, a former member of the Washington State University women's rowing team[2] who has worked for Klutch Sports since 2014,[46] is the wife of NFL player Michael Bush.[1] His godfather, David Patrick, was an assistant coach at LSU and was a part of his sole season there.[63] A cousin of Simmons, who had attended the 2016 NBA draft, was killed in a hit-and-run during the early hours of 25 June 2016 in New Jersey.[64] Simmons has dual Australian and American citizenship.[65][66]


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  3. 1 2 Auerbach, Nicole (19 June 2015). "LSU's versatile Ben Simmons has a natural position: Star". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
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  36. "Marquette uses late free throws to nip No. 22 LSU 81-80". 23 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
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  52. "Wolves' Tyus Jones named 2016 Summer League MVP". 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  53. "Ben Simmons, Thon Maker named two of NBA Summer League's best players". 18 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  54. "Injury Update: Ben Simmons Fractures Bone in Foot". 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
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  64. "Ben Simmons' cousin victim of fatal hit-and-run; had attended draft Thursday". 26 June 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
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  66. Stephens, Mitch (29 April 2014). "Nation's top junior Ben Simmons succeeds with versatility". Retrieved 24 July 2016.

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