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03/12/2015
David Hein's Eye on the Future
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Simmons dominance already conjuring up images of past greats

REGENSBURG (David Hein’s eye on the Future) - Looking at some of the references about Ben Simmons over the past few days on Twitter is like remembering some of the greatest basketball players in college history. And it’s also revelling in the fact that we are watching the next transcendent talent. 

Simmons is only seven games into his collegiate career with Louisiana State University, and he is already giving statistic keepers plenty of work. 

The 19-year-old Australian set Twitter ablaze with his most recent performance, collecting 43 points on 15-of-20 shots and 13-of-15 free throws as well as 14 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals in LSU’s win over North Florida. 

According to ESPN Stats and Info, Simmons joined Jared Sullinger, Michael Beasley and Tyler Hansbrough as the only freshmen in the last 20 seasons with 40 points and 10 rebounds in a game.

He’s also the only major conference player in the last 20 seasons with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in a game.

Simmons became the third player in the last 40 years of LSU history to score 43 points in a game as Mahmood Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson) did it eight times and Shaquille O’Neil did it twice - the last time in 1991. 

So far Simmons is averaging 19.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.6 blocks while hitting 54 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line. 

Simmons has a 21-point, 20-rebound game to his credit as well as a 15-point, 18-rebound showing and the unusual line of 4 points - on 1-of-6 shooting - 14 rebounds and 10 assists. 

The 4-14-10 game saw him join company with Ben Gordon, who was the last player in 2003 to have 14 rebounds, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a game.

And Simmons joined Evan Turner as the only players in the last 20 seasons to average 15 points, 10 assists and five assists in the month of November. 

Those are some big names who put together some amazing collegiate and NBA careers. And Simmons has done nothing this season other than confirm his status as the expected number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft - which is where both ESPN and Hoops Hype have him with Draft Express saying Simmons will be selected second behind Skal Labissiere. 

Simmons is a highlight film waiting to happen with his unusual blend of speed, physicalness and athleticism in a 6-foot-10 (2.08m) frame. The son of an American who played basketball in Australia, Simmons is extremely difficult to stop in transition and has excellent ball-handling and passing abilities. 

The biggest question mark so far is Simmons shot as he has attempted just two three-pointers through seven games - making one of them. 

But Simmons is also a proven winner. 

He helped Australia to a second-placed finish at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, where he averaged 9.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 assists and 0.9 blocks despite being just 15 years old. Simmons’ top games were a 26-point, 10-rebound and five-steal showing against Czech Republic and he picked up 13 points and 14 rebounds against Egypt.

In January 2013, Simmons moved to the United States to attend the highly-acclaimed Montverde Academy college prep school in Florida. Simmons guided Montverde to three straight United States high school national championships. 

Simmons said one of the main reasons he scored more against North Florida was that he was “tired of losing” after the Tigers has lost their previous three games - incidentally the same number of games he lost during his three seasons with Montverde.

The whole package leaves many impressed with Simmons. 

Jay Bilas, a college basketball analyst at ESPN, said Simmons’ dominance conjured up images of LeBron James.

“The last time I remember someone giving me that feeling on the floor was when LeBron was in his senior year of high school,” Bilas told ESPN Radio earlier this season.

“There was just something different about him, and you knew right away that this guy is the real thing.”

Simmons continued: “Now, Simmons is not LeBron, obviously. But Simmons is the real thing. I would take him No. 1 if they had the draft today. His game is NBA ready. He’s a phenomenal passer.”

Simmons season is just seven games old and he has plenty of times to help college basketball observers conjure up images of other greats.

David Hein

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

 

David Hein

David Hein

Walk into the media tribune of any major basketball event and there's a good chance you will come across David Hein. Having covered dozens of FIBA events, including numerous women's and youth events, there are few players Dave doesn't know about, and few players who don't know him. His sporting curiosity means he is always looking to unearth something new and a little bit special. David Hein's Eye on the Future is a weekly column digging out the freshest basketball talent worldwide and assessing what the basketball landscape will look like a couple of years down the line.