Australia is not a country known for basketball. But in recent years, the Aussies have been sending more and more players to the NBA. And finally, they have an All-Star. Ben Simmons is the point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers. And after a few years in the league, he has realized his potential.
It’s a big deal for Simmons to be the first Australian to be named an All-Star. There are not many Aussies in the league, so Simmons is playing a big role in representing his country at the highest level of basketball.
Simmons has always looked up to other Australians in the league and says that he’s been fortunate enough to be mentored by a few of them. Simmons points to Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut as guys that really helped him along. Both from Australia, Mills and Bogut had a huge impact on the younger Simmons. In a league of practically all Americans, Simmons has found it helpful to play with some fellow Australians.
Simmons’ Reaction To Being An All-Star
Simmons is excited of course. He has had a lot of pressure on him ever since he came over to the United States in high school. Simmons came here to the U.S. to play basketball and he hasn’t disappointed.
But just being in the NBA wasn’t enough for Simmons. He wanted to really prove that he belonged with the best in the world. And now, being named an All-Star, he has done just that. Simmons says that his selection as an All-Star makes him feel like his position in the league is solidified and that people can now recognize him as a great player. The humble Simmons may not realize that many already thought this but now there can be no doubt whatsoever about his abilities.
Simmons’ Road To The NBA
Back in 2013, Simmons came to the U.S. to attend the Montverde Academy in Florida. Just two years later, Simmons was named the number one high school player in the country by ESPN.
He chose to go to Louisiana State University. At six foot nine, Simmons made an unlikely point guard but that was where coach Johnny Jones played him. As a freshman he proved that point guard was where he needed to be. He averaged about 20 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists per game.
Coach Jones said he knew all along that Simmons would be an NBA star someday. And perhaps he truly did know something. After all, not every coach lets the six foot nine guy play the point.
Next Stop: The NBA
Simmons didn’t waste any time. After his freshman season, he entered the NBA draft. His goal was to be the number one draft pick and he nailed it. The 76ers did indeed select him at number one overall. He played well in the summer league and the Sixers had high hopes for Simmons in his first season.
So far Simmons had done everything right. He was ranked the number one player in high school, he was the number one draft pick out of college; now he just had to prove that he was the real deal in the NBA.
Simmons describes it as starting from the bottom all over again. And he was prepared to do just that before he was injured. In September of 2016, he fractured his right foot and ended up missing the entire season.
But Simmons came back strong the next year, averaging about 16 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game, and winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
And this season, with even better numbers, he has risen to the top: an NBA All-Star.