Australians are on a hot streak in elite basketball.
We have Matthew Dellavedova becoming a cult hero alongside LeBron James in Cleveland, Andrew Bogut ringing the championship with Golden State and Patty Mills doing the same thing the year before with San Antonio.
But Australia’s next big thing comes in the form of Ben Simmons, the 19 year old expected to be the next No.1 NBA draft pick. Why? Well, shots like this.
And passes like this.
And dunks like this.
The Melbourne-born son of former NBL player Dave Simmons is currently playing college ball for the LSU tigers, the same college Shaquille O’Neal played for in the early 90s.
In his rookie season, the forward has been averaging 20.3 points per game, 12.6 rebounds per game and 5.3 assists per game. At 6-foot-10, just 19 years old, Simmons has the height of a big man, the athleticism of a wing player, and the ball-handling of a guard. He’s so good even US president Barack Obama is talking about him.
President Obama was delivering a speech in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Thursday afternoon when he jokingly mentioned an “OK basketball player”, Ben Simmons was around here.
Not soon after, he tweeted that he just met Simmons and thinks he will be great.
love em all, but as a bulls fan got to go with mj. in baton rouge, just met lsu freshman ben simmons – will be great https://t.co/Du1gflVYp4
— President Obama (@POTUS) January 14, 2016
Obama isn’t the only fan of Simmons either. NBA hall-of-famer Magic Johnson tweeted earlier this month that he thinks Simmons is the best player since LeBron James.
LSU's Ben Simmons is the best all around player I've seen since LeBron James came out of high school straight to the NBA!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 6, 2016
Adding to that, late last year Kobe Bryant told media he thought he was fantastic and had loads of potential.
And then you have Shaq who labeled Simmons as “the best player in the world”.
Half-way through the 2015/16 NCAA Men’s basketball season, Simmons has been named on the mid-season Wooden awards list after several games with ridiculous stat lines. In a win against North Florida last month, Simmons scored 43 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, five steals and three blocks on 15-of-20 shooting from the field. Those are video game numbers!
Simmons was raised in Melbourne before his family relocated to Florida to help advance his game at a US high school.
In his senior year of high school at the Monteverde Academy, Simmons was named Gatorade national player of the year, Naismith prep player of the year and a McDonald’s All-American.
You’ll be seeing a lot more of Ben Simmons in the years to come.