For as talented as last year’s No. 1 high school player in the country, Ben Simmons, is, his name and the word “failure” have been somewhat synonymous with one another.
Simmons failed to meet academic standards during his first semester and was deemed ineligible for the Wendy’s Wooden Award, awarded to the best player in the country. Simmons also failed to get his LSU Tiger team into the NCAA Tournament, who, in turn, also negated the Tigers from participating in the NIT Tournament, as well.
The most recent breaking news surrounding the 6’10” forward, though, may have potentially failed his future.
Monday it was released that Simmons has withdrawn from school at LSU and is moving to Phoenix to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft.
Prior to and just after the start of the regular season the Australian native was a foregone conclusion to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. And even throughout most of the season Simmons had been thought to be a lock to be the top pick.
But that notion seems to be slipping.
With Simmons’ complete failure in the classroom, and his inability to get his team to the big dance, along with a growing amount of support that Duke’s Brandon Ingram and/or Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield – both of whom are still in the NCAA Tournament – have surpassed Simmons as the best player in the country and that they instead should be taken first.
Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this year, the only freshman to average more than 19 points and 11 rebounds, and also led all players in double-doubles. He did this, though, against an SEC conference that wasn’t as good as it normally is, and disappointed in big moments against quality opponents.
In six games against ranked opponents Simmons’ averaged just 13.5 points and one rebound less per contest.
The now former Tiger’s draft stock hasn’t wavered that much, but it may have wavered some. And it’s his decision making that could wind up costing him in June.
Simmons’ decision to not go to class while he was enrolled, and then to ultimately remove himself from school completely, may raise red flags to scouts.
Some may say that his decision only makes sense since he’ll be one of the top draft choices, but it’s ultimately not the NCAA’s rules maintaining that a player must be out of high school for one year that could fail Simmons down the road, however, it’s Simmons own fault.
Even the decision to attend LSU seemed a little odd.
Simmons decided to be far and away the best player on his team, arguably the only player on his team with NBA potential, instead of signing with a team with multiple pro talents and a coach with a track record of players in the pros. Personal success in the present over team success and growth as a player.
I’m not in position to say that Simmons won’t be first player selected in the draft, nor am I saying he won’t have a good career.
But, if I had to guess right now, I’d say that he’s showing signs of being a disappointment. Questionable decision-making doesn’t get solved over night.
It’s too early to tell if Simmons will be a bust, but it’s easy to see he has failed his college basketball experience.