Big Ben Simmons showcases his NBA draft claim
THE Ben Simmons show that has toured Australia's eastern states in recent days had the 19-year-old Aussie basketballer living up to the hype that has seen him tipped to possibly go No.1 in next year's NBA draft.
The 208cm son of former Melbourne Tigers star Dave Simmons played well within himself in five exhibition games for Louisiana State University, but still treated fans in Brisbane and Melbourne to glimpses of the exciting style and athleticism that has excited plenty of good judges in the US.
Former NBL championship-winning coach Bruce Palmer - presently the technical director at Dongguen Basketball School, an NBA training centre in Japan - was courtside at Brisbane's Auchenflower Stadium when Simmons finished with 18 points and a dozen rebounds in an 83-80 win against a Queensland All Star side.
Palmer told APN the teenager reminded him of former LA Laker Lamar Odom, a 210cm NBA championship winner who had the skills of a guard.
"Ben is a great passer for a kid his size. I'm unbelievably impressed. I think he's a real chance to go first (NBA draft pick) provided he stays injury-free and continues to develop his game," Palmer said. "Everything I have seen in the NCAA from the last few years, I've not seen a player like him.
"He comes from good pedigree, his dad was a very intelligent and tough player.
"He may not be done growing yet either. He's six-feet 10 with a seven-foot-six wing span. It's a rarity to find the kind of ball-handling and passing skills in a kid that size."
To say Palmer and others who turned up to see what the hype was all about, including former Brisbane Bullets NBL rebounding king Andre Moore, two-time NBL title-winning coach Brian Kerlet, and former Boomers star Sam McKinnon, were impressed would be an understatement.
"He already has an NBA swagger about him," said Moore who banged bodies with Simmons' father Dave during their NBL careers.
While Simmons avoided the Australian media as easily as he did defenders on court, his father spoke to APN about his son's future.
"It's all about his skill set," Dave said. "A lot of guys can do a lot of different things, but he is one kid who can do a lot of different things and do them all very well.
"There's not a lot of six-ten guys who can run a team from the point, and do it very well. He's a great passer, a great team player. He can rebound, he can shoot, he can make the lay-up, shoot left hand or right hand, he's just a multi-talented young player."