One Australian that has been the topic of frequent discussion for basketball fans lately, might just be LSU freshman Ben Simmons. His first and final college season with the Tigers, has only served to raise questions about the validity of his position in the upcoming NBA draft.
The negativity obviously, has in no way dented Simmons' confidence in his own stock.
Declaring for the draft
"I'm making it official."
That was all Simmons had to offer, as he recently made known his intention to declare for the NBA draft. More importantly, he has quit college and will prepare for the pre-draft process, likely in Arizona as revealed by Adam Zagoria.
“[Simmons is] definitely a very talented player," Aron Baynes had commented in a recent interview with the NBA, in a show of support for the young forward.
"He has his support crew around him and I’m sure they’re making the right decisions on his behalf. It’s a matter of he has to take that next step from college- he had a tough season, very up and down. But he was able to prove just how good a basketball player he is."
Is Rio still a go?
Andrew Bogut had subtly pointed out Simmons' likely unavailability for the Olympics in a recent podcast with HBO's Bill Simmons. “Look, Benny’s got a very busy offseason with the draft coming up,” Bogut had commented. “We wish Benny the best. We know if he has an opportunity to play in the future, we’re hoping that he’ll play.”
Like Bogut, Baynes is taking a similar stance of cautious optimism.
"I’m looking forward to watching him take that next step and hopefully he’ll be involved with the (Australian) national team. I think he can help us a lot but we’ll see where that gets down to at the end of the day."
"But it’s great seeing him and his progress from the last few years," Baynes recalls. "I remember when I think he was 15 and he came into one of our national team practices and seeing how much he’s developed since then is pretty awesome to see where he is now. Hopefully he keeps getting better and I wish him continued success.”
It's unlikely Simmons will make his decision known, until a consensus is reached with his new agent and likely his prospective NBA team.
Whilst Simmons' decision to quit college early comes with mild surprise, it only serves to hammer home a singular point: the draft is all that matters in the coming days.