It's too early to say whether Ben Simmons will wind up the top prospect in the Class of 2015, but he definitely performed like the alpha dog during this month's live evaluation period.
Simmons led Each 1 Teach 1 to an impressive run at the Peach Jam, Nike's culminating EYBL tournament, one that ended prematurely in the playoff rounds but nevertheless provided a stage by which Simmons would demonstrate his ability to fans and impressed — if annoyed, given that he's already committed to LSU — college coaches.
Simmons proved to be a marvel of efficient, versatile production. In fact, last year in these superlatives I included a separate story for Mr. Versatility, but Simmons claims that title in addition to best overall player.
He averaged 19 points per game at the Peach Jam while shooting 61 percent from the field. He added nine rebounds per game along with four assists and two steals per contest, contributing in effectively every facet. Despite the fact that the Peach Jam featured a more concentrated pool of strong teams, versus the EYBL's regular season, Simmons actually stepped up his play during the Nike postseason — always a benchmark for a great player.
He drew heavy attention to his own myriad scoring tools and unselfishly served a decoy role when defenses honed in on him too keenly. He also hustled on defense and competed with a gravitas that led to situations such as the first full night at the Peach Jam, when the upper track area overlooking his court literally was three deep with people trying to catch a glance of Each 1 Teach vs. CP3.
None of this should dissuade those who want inspect his game more closely. Simmons isn't a tremendously long 6-8, nor is he a particularly explosive athlete. The lefty doesn't shoot very well from three-point range and, more worryingly, has been a poor free throw shooter. Given his physical qualities, he must expand his shooting touch in order to maintain his high degree of success in college and (especially) the NBA.
But this column doesn't aspire to delve into a full evaluation — look for that soon — and instead focuses on his actual July performance. None of our other contenders quite matched Simmons' level, and thus he was an easy call as Mr. July.