IN DEMAND: Australian Ben Simmons lines up for his college team, the LSU Tigers.
IN DEMAND: Australian Ben Simmons lines up for his college team, the LSU Tigers. Stacy Revere

Ben Simmons likely to be No.1 in NBA draft

THE Philadelphia 76ers appear set to boost their roster with the signing of Aussie sensation Ben Simmons as their No.1 pick in the NBA draft today.

The 19-year-old from Melbourne finally worked out with the struggling franchise earlier this week before reports emerged that the team - coached by former Boomers mentor Brett Brown - had informed the youngster he would be their selection.

Brown has a connection with the Simmons family, having coached Ben's father and NBL champion Dave at the Melbourne Tigers in the early 1990s.

Simmons, who starred for Louisiana State University in the US college basketball system, was rumoured to be keen to be picked up by glamour franchise the LA Lakers.

But he also seems excited at the prospect of being named this year's No.1 pick by the 76ers in New York this morning.

"I'm pretty excited. Ready to get it over with, to find out where I'm going. It's exciting times," Simmons told Fox Sports.

"I definitely do want to go No.1. It's been a goal of mine since I was a young kid.

"It's the highest position in the draft. I want to be looked at as the best player for my age group or my class. I've put a lot of work into where I'm at right now and I want it to pay off."

Current Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said Simmons would be a massive addition to any NBA team.

"He's got that ultimate all-round game and defensively he's something to deal with, just with his size and length and his understanding of the game," Lemanis told Australian Regional Media.

"He's a really tough match-up for any opposition because he can take big guys to the perimeter and then drive around them and against the smaller guys he can post up.

"At his size he has tremendous handle and with that comes his passing ability - he has an amazing ability to pass the basketball.

"Whichever organisation he ends up at I know he'll give it his best to be successful and help that organisation be successful.."

Simmons averaged an impressive 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in 33 games for LSU in 2015/16, helping the Tigers to a 19-14 record.

There has been plenty of speculation around fellow 19-year-old Aussie Thon Maker and where he could end up as a result of the draft, because he is entering it straight out of high school.

Various American media outlets have predicted the 216cm beanpole could end up at New Orleans, Boston, Phoenix or Toronto, and could come in as low as the 40th pick.



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