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Report: Sixers to select Ben Simmons with number one draft pick
The wait is over for Ben Simmons.
The Australian basketball sensation will be selected with the number one pick in Friday’s NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, first reported by Chris Haynes of cleveland.com.
Simmons was the consensus top pick for majority of his lone season at LSU, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. The 6’10" forward was named on the All-American first team, the USBWA National Freshman of the Year, on the All-SEC first team and the SEC Freshman of the Year.
However, the rise of Duke’s Brandon Ingram had many draft boards dropping Simmons to the pick number two, which is held by the Los Angeles Lakers.
After Simmons worked out with the Sixers on Wednesday morning though, after declining to work out with any other team in the lead up to the draft, his first NBA home has become very clear.
Last week, Simmons met with Sixers officials in Cleveland, per Olgun Uluc of FOX Sports Australia, so the relationship between the two parties seems to be off to a good start.
It’s expected Simmons won’t work out or meet with any other team.
Simmons posted a photo on Instagram, with the caption ‘#TrustTheProcess’, the slogan Philadelphia has embraced during the team's long rebuilding phase.
Additionally, Simmons also posted an image with Joel Embiid, the Sixers third overall pick in the 2014 draft. Embiid has yet to make his NBA debut due to a multitude of injury problems.
“Great people,” Simmons said, when asked about his first impressions of the 76ers after his workout, via sixers.com. “It’s great to come in here and be surrounded by great people. It’s a great organisation, so I’m looking forward to Thursday [draft day].”
Simmons was also optimistic that his workout was a success.
“I think it went well,” Simmons said about his workout, via sixers.com. “I feel great, great shape. Enjoyed the workout, so it’s exciting times.”
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo spoke glowingly of Simmons immense structure and physical attributes.
“Very impressive,” Colangelo said, via sixers.com. “He’s all of 6-10 and 242 pounds. You’re talking about a substantial young man that is going to have an impact physically at this level almost immediately. He’s got an NBA body and he’s got some skills that are NBA skills, definable NBA skills. When you put that size and skill together, it’s generally a pretty good package.”
Simmons is represented by Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Agency, which is Cleveland-based and is also the agency that LeBron James is involved with. James and Simmons have forged a strong relationship with one another, one that can only benefit Simmons moving forward.
"Well, I think he's a great young talent," James said about Simmons, via James Herbert of CBS Sports. "I think the way he displays on the basketball court, we all notice. I think we all don't know just yet how great of a kid he is and how down to earth he is with the game of basketball and life in general."
“As a mentor to him and big brother to him, I also give him a lot of advice on what to expect when he makes his jump next week, how to handle it. But he also has to figure it out on his own as well because everybody's path is different."
James has already started to give Simmons advice, before he begins his much-anticipated NBA career.
“Focus,” Simmons said, when asked what’s the best advice James has given him, via ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Don’t worry about what people are saying, just stick to your goals and keep your family close to you. He keeps good people around him and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Simmons has chosen to pull out of Australian Boomers Olympic consideration, but coach Andrej Lemanis is keeping the door open if he changes his mind.
Friday will mark just the second first overall pick the 76ers will make in the lottery era. They selected Allen Iverson with the number one pick in 1996, while they traded away their top pick in 1986.
The NBA Draft will take place at 9am on Friday (AEDT) and will be televised on ESPN.