One on one with Ben Simmons

One of the top players from the class of 2015 grew up in the land down under. Now, as his recruiting process heats up, colleges across the United States are showing heavy interest in Ben Simmons, including Duke. TDD spoke with Simmons about it all.

You're a native of Australia, correct?

Ben Simmons: Yes, I mainly grew up in Newcastle and that's where I got my start playing basketball. Then, around sixth grade, I moved to Melbourne, which is where I really started to develop as a basketball player. The competition in Melbourne was a lot better. The teams were bigger, and there was a greater variety of players because there were more teams available in the area.

Who has played a big role in your development?

Definitely my dad. He helped me develop by making sure I developed my guard skills when I was younger, because he knew I was going to be taller. So, when I grew, I had a lot of skills of a smaller player, which made it easier to get to the basket against other players.

Sounds like you hit a pretty early growth spurt

I had one in the 8th grade.

What got you interested in basketball early on?

I think it was definitely having so many people around me who played in my family, it was just you picking things up because everybody was playing.

What was the motivation to come to the US to play?

I guess it was always something I wanted to do. The competition over here is a lot higher, so it was mainly the competition but also the academic opportunities… I want to be able to get into college.

What drew you to Montverde?

Definitely the academic side, because it's a great school. Plus their basketball is pretty high. When i came back from a tour, i started getting interested because we had visited a lot of different high schools and I started getting interested in them.

What other High Schools did you visit?

I visited Findlay, Huntington Prep, Brewster, and New Hampton. With Montverde, I knew some of the guys already from having played against them, guys like Dakari and Kasey. Also, knowing Coach Boyle, he's coached some great players, that's why I chose to come here.

When did you become good friends with so many of the top players in high school?

I guess it was for me going over and playing against them at the Pangos All American Camp and the Adidas Nations events. Also in the Worlds, because I played against some of the best players with Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Dakari. I guess that's the reason.

How are you adapting to your new teammates?

They are great, and it seems like I've been here for awhile. Practices have been good but hard. Coach Boyle likes to run a lot, and he's also big on making sure you know your plays if you want to play out here.

You are considered to be in contention for the top spot in 2015 as a player…

It's a great honor but, the rankings don't mean much to me. It's just more pressure on me when I come out and play, I have to come to play every night.

A lo of the top guys in their classes are making the decision to reclassify into the previous class in order to get to college sooner. Is that on the table in your situation?

Right now I'm planning on staying in 2015 class.

How much are you into the recruiting process right now?

Not really, not at all. I just moved here recently so I've been getting my high school stuff squared away with my classes, my training, and we just traveled to Boston, so I've been busy.

Who do you think will help you with the recruiting process once you get into it?

Definitely my parents, my family, Coach Boyle, all my assistant coaches here at Montverde. My parents are still over in Australia right now, but they might be able to come over here at some point, which will be good. Probably next year, maybe two years.

Are you watching any college basketball this season?

I've been watching a lot of Florida because Kasey is going to be going there, that's always on TV when i'm hanging out with him.

What are your impressions of the Gator team and program?

They are very athletic and they get up and down the court. I'm also watching UCLA too, and they are very young with Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, but they'll be a good team soon.

Are there any schools that you came over from Australia already having interest in them?

Right now i'm totally open, I'm a total open slate to any colleges interested in me.

Were there any schools growing up that you followed?

Growing up it was definitely Duke. They had my favorite color and they just kept getting great players every year like they did with Austin Rivers recently. I don't even remember when i first started watching them, but my favorite player definitely is Austin Rivers.

What makes Austin your favorite?

Definitely his speed and the fact that he can pull up from anywhere and shoot it. His shot against North Carolina was crazy. That was a big shot for him.

What's your thoughts on Coach K?

I haven't looked too much in coaches or recruiting yet, but it's pretty safe to say he knows what he's doing in out there, haha.

What kind of player do you want to be in college?

Definitely somebody who can handle the ball but also play inside. Something like a point forward.

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