Ben Simmons was one of just 2 freshman selected to the Wooden Award mid-season watch list of 25 players in contention for the 2015/16 NCAA Division I men's player of the year award. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced during the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament.
On a list containing all of the big names who have stood out so far this season, Simmons was joined by Kentucky's Jamal Murray as the only first year players on the list which is dominated by 14 seniors.
The 6'10 LSU forward has dominated opponents so far this season, averaging an impressive double-double of 20.6 points on 57.7% shooting with 13.1 rebounds (2nd in NCAA) and 5.1 assists per game. If he maintains his current pace, according to ESPN Stats and Info, Simmons will become the first player to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in the SEC since Shaquille O'Neal (1991/92) and the first to better 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists across the NCAA in the past 20 years!
With 12 double-doubles, scoring 20 or more points 9 times and a season best haul of 43 points in a win against North Florida. He also had a 21 point and 20 rebound performance against Marquette, and a commanding 36 point and 14 rebound outing against Vanderbilt that also stand out. Add to that, Simmons was named SEC Freshman Player of the Week on 5 January.
Simmons has tantalised fans and NBA scouts alike, capturing the imagination of the basketball fraternity with his unique blend of size, athleticism and IQ (and highlight plays). His skill set has been compared to Magic Johnson, and some, including Magic himself, have referred to Simmons as being the best NBA prospect since LeBron James.
Whether those comparisons ring true or not, he has cemented his place as the projected number 1 selection in this year's NBA Draft. However between now and then, Simmons has unfinished business as he looks to guide LSU to the NCAA Tournament.