Benjamin David Simmons is an Australian professional basketball player who currently plays as a forward for the ‘Philadelphia 76ers’ of ‘National Basketball Association (NBA).’ He is also on the ‘Australian National Basketball Team.’ He was born and raised in Australia and now holds dual citizenship of Australia and the US. While growing up in New South Wales, Australia, he played in under-12 team at the age of 7. He also participated in Australian rule football and rugby. During high school, he won some prestigious awards for basketball. He played for Australia in ‘2013 FIBA Oceania Championship’ and helped win gold medal. He was invited to some of the prominent basketball camps in the USA that present best high school players in the world. After playing college basketball at ‘Louisiana State University’ for one year, he was selected first overall in the ‘2016 NBA Draft’ by ‘Philadelphia 76ers.’ Due to a foot injury during training camp, he could not play for his first NBA season, but by the end of his debut season, Simmons won ‘NBA Rookie of the Year.’
Childhood & Early Life
Simmons was born on July 20, 1996, in Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, to David Simmons and Julie. His father Dave is American-born and played basketball for ‘Oklahoma City University.’ In 1989, Dave turned professional and played 13 seasons with ‘Melbourne Tigers’ in Australia’s ‘NBL’.
In 1991 Dave met Julie, a single mother with four children and after their marriage in 1994, they had two more. So Ben Simmons is the youngest with five older siblings, Mellissa, Emily, Liam, Sean and Olivia.
Simmons grew up in Newcastle, as his father was appointed coach there. He started playing basketball from the age of 7 in the ‘under-12 representative team’ of ‘Newcastle Hunters.’ He also played junior rugby league for the ‘Western Suburbs’ and in the local ‘Newcastle Rugby League.’
He returned to Melbourne by the age of 10 and played for ‘Knox Raiders.’ He not only played Australian Rules football for ‘Beverley Hills Junior Football Club,’ but also won quite a few ‘best and Fairest’ awards in ‘Yarra Junior Football League.’ He joined the ‘Whitefriars College’ during grade 7 and helped them win ‘Year-7 Division 1A Basketball Championship’ and was named MVP.
Between basketball and football, he finally decided on basketball when his football coach didn’t place him in the forward position which he wanted. While in the 9th grade, he played for ‘Box Hill Senior Secondary College’ at 2011 ‘Australian Schools Championships.’ In 2012 he received a scholarship at ‘Australian Institute of Sport’ and the same year, he was invited to the ‘Pangos All-American Camp’ in the US, meant for the basketball prospects.
Simmons played for the Australian team at ‘2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship,’ though he was only 15. He helped the team win silver against Czech Republic.
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He joined ‘Montverde Academy’ in Montverde, Florida, US, in January 2013. In the ‘High School National Tournament’ in April 2013, he helped the team win over New Jersey’s ‘St. Benedicts.’
Later, in June 2013, he returned to Melbourne and played 6 games for ‘Bulleen Boomers’ of ‘Big V’ (the semi-professional basketball league in Victoria).
For the 2013-2014 junior year season, he was back in the ‘Montverde academy.’ In the ‘High School National Tournament’ his Academy won 71-62 over ‘Oak Hill Academy,’ and Simmons was named MVP. At the ‘National Basketball Players’ Association Top 100 Camp,’ he was named MVP as well as ‘America’s Top High School Junior.’
Simmons signed a ‘National Letter of Intent’ (NLI) (indicating his commitment to participate in the ‘National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges in the US), in November 2014, to play for ‘Louisiana State University’ (LSU).
In January 2015, he was included in the ‘East Team’ for the 38th annual ‘McDonald’s All-American Game.’ In March 2015, he was receiver of 3 important awards. He helped the Eagles achieve a 28-1 record and a berth in the ‘High School National Tournament.’
Soon after ‘McDonald Game,’ he led the ‘Montverde Academy’ to win third consecutive ‘High School National Tournament’ title and was named MVP for this 3-day tournament. He was a part of ‘World Team’ in the ‘2015 Nike Hoop Summit’ and won 103-101 over the ‘Team USA.’ He was listed as number 1 player in the nation in 2015.
His career with ‘LSU Tigers’ began with a pre-season Australian tour; the LSU team won the 5-game tour with 3-2 record. He received pre-season player honors for his game.
He made his season’s debut in November 2015 and started with a win for LSU team. At the end of the season he was named first team, ‘All-Southeastern Conference’ and ‘Freshman of the Year’ of the League. The regular season was considered as not very heartening for the LSU team.
In the post-season ‘2016 SEC Tournament,’ the LSU team’s performance was disappointing and Simmons could not succeed in leading the ‘LSU Tigers’ to an entry to an ‘NCAA Tournament.’
As the LSU could not earn a berth in the ‘NCAA Tournament,’ their head coach Johnny Jones decided that ‘LSU Tigers’ would not participate in any post-season games. Simmons withdrew from the university in March 2016, giving up his 3 more years of college, and announced his name for the ‘2016 NBA Draft.’
His actions and attitude raised questions before the ‘2016 NBA Draft.’ But these questions were laid aside by the ‘Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach, Brett Brown, who is a friend of the Simmons family and former coach of the ‘Australian National Team.’ In June 2016, ‘Philadelphia 76ers’ selected Simmons with first overall pick in the 2016 draft.
In July 2016 he signed contract with ‘Philadelphia 76ers’ and played for the ‘2016 NBA Summer League.’ Though his game wasn’t up to the expectations, his overall abilities earned him admiration and a place in ‘All-Las Vegas Summer League First Team.’
During training camp in September 2016, he injured his right ankle, which was diagnosed as fracture of fifth metatarsal bone of right foot. In February 2017, it was declared that he wouldn’t be able to play for that season.
After missing out on an entire season, he made his NBA debut in October 2017. In the first few games itself he surpassed a number of previous records. He helped his team finish the season with number 3 seed in the ‘Eastern Conference Playoffs.’ At the end of the regular season, he was named ‘Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month’ for 3rd consecutive month. At the end of the playoffs and the season’s end, he was awarded ‘NBA Rookie of the Year’ and was named in ‘NBA All-Rookie First Team.’
Australian National Team
Simmons played for his nation at the age of 15 and helped the team win silver at ‘2012 FIBA Under-17 World Championship.’ His debut as a senior for Australia was in the ‘2013 FIBA Oceania Championships’ where he led his team to win gold against New Zealand.
Awards & Achievements
In March 2015, he earned 3 awards – the ‘Morgan Wootten Award’ given to the ‘best male McDonald’s All-American Players’; the ‘Naismith Prep Player of the Year’ and the ‘Gatorade National Player of the Year’
Apart from his former pro basketball player father, Simmons’ brother Liam is an assistant coach for the ‘Southwest Baptist Bearcats Basketball Team’ and sister Emily is a former member of women’s rowing team of ‘Washington State University.’