The NBA Draft is quickly approaching and Ben Simmons will likely be the first name called by commissioner Adam Silver on June 23. The Sixers are reportedly leaning heavily toward taking Simmons with the first overall pick, which would make him the face of their franchise, just like Allen Iverson was when he was taken first by Philly back in the legendary 1996 NBA Draft.
The spotlight will certainly be on the LSU product—who has been compared favorably to LeBron James and Tracy McGrady— between now and the draft, so it's a great time to get to know him a little better. Get ready Sixers (or Lakers) fans. Here are 17 Things You Didn't Know About Ben Simmons.
1. He’s a big opera fan.
2. He has a pet bearded dragon named Mutombo.
3. His dad is a basketball legend in Australia.
4. He's childhood friends with Jazz PG Dante Exum.
5. Sixers head coach Brett Brown coached Simmons’ dad in Australia.
6. He's a Knicks and Heat fan.
Simmons said in 2012 that his favorite teams are the Heat and Knicks. That was back when LeBron’s talents were in South Beach and the Knicks were a playoff team, so there’s a good chance things may have changed.
7. President Obama shouted him out in January.
You know you’re a big deal when the President name drops you. When President Obama made a trip to Louisiana in January, he sarcastically called Simmons an “okay basketball player” during a speech.
He later mentioned Simmons in a tweet, favorably comparing him to Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. High praise coming from the commander-in-chief.
9. He played James Harden even in game of 1-on-1 last summer.
10. He TBTed a picture of him and Steph Curry from when he was 14.
Your TBTs probably consist of some old baby pictures, pictures of your awkward teenage years, or snaps from two weeks ago at the bar. (Two weeks old isn’t a throwback, by the way.)
Simmons goes far beyond any of that. He posted a picture of him and Steph Curry, which Simmons said was taken when he was 14. That’s probably better than any selfie you’ve posted to Instagram this week.
11. His half-sister, Emily, is married to former NFL running back Michael Bush.
12. He won a silver medal at the 2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship with Australia.
13. Simmons’ favorite shoes are the LeBron Zoom Soldiers.
14. He calls LeBron James a “mentor.”
15. He’s being compared to some of the greats of the game.
LSU assistant David Patrick told the Sydney Morning Herald that scouts see a lot of LeBron and Tracy McGrady in his game.
“At the Nike camp, I ask basketball experts whether his game reminds them of a particular player. A few say Magic Johnson or Tracy McGrady—big men with point guard skills—but the most common answer is his hero, King James. Everybody compares him to LeBron," Patrick said. "He laughs at the audacity of it. I know that's a high bar, but there's not many guys that tall that can handle the ball.”
16. LSU assistant coach David Patrick is Simmons’ godfather.
17. Dick Vitale was starstruck when he met Simmons at a high school game.
Dickie V has been the face of ESPN’s college hoops brand since he came to the network just three months into its existence in December of 1979. He’s pretty famous.
But even he seemed a little bit starstruck when he met Simmons during his junior year of high school in 2013, snapping a picture with the future lottery pick.
You know you’ve made it when you’re a high school junior and Dick Vitale wants to meet you.