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Before this college basketball season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that LSU super freshman Ben Simmons would be the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Now, as the draft approaches, there is a lot of debate as to whether Duke’s Brandon Ingram should garner the top pick. In fact, it seems like the consensus that Simmons will fall to No. 2.
Despite a solid year from Simmons, in which he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists as the go-to option on a bad LSU team, some holes in his game – such as his questionable jumper – were exposed. Perhaps that is the reason Simmons has chosen to focus entirely on draft prep this summer.
Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul (who founded Klutch Sports Group with longtime friend LeBron James), told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that Simmons won’t represent his home country of Australia in the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, according to the tweet, he will play for Australia in the future.
You might think Simmons wouldn’t suit up for Australia just because they don’t have a prayer (the country has never won a medal in 13 Olympic men’s basketball appearances), but the Australian team actually has a good deal of NBA talent. Expect to see Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, and Aron Baynes among the NBA names representing their country. Of course, Team USA, which typically has its pick of the best players in the NBA, will be the favorite.
For Simmons, this move makes sense for a lot of reasons – it’s not about avoiding injury, but instead ensuring that 100 percent of his time is tailored toward his mission of becoming NBA ready, and maybe reclaiming that spot as the No. 1 pick.
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[via Pro Basketball Talk]