Ben Simmons might be the best basketball prospect in the world in the Class of 2015.
The 6-foot-8 Australian lefty, basically an unknown in the United States, dazzled scouts, coaches and reporters at two major events in the United States this summer – the Pangos All-American Camp and the adidas Nations tournament. He impressed scouts at NBAdraft.net enough to garner the following comments: "(Simmons) would rate as the top American sophomore in the nation if he played in the States. . . . Look out for Ben Simmons, a big time prospect who will be coming to the States in a few years, and ultimately playing in the NBA."
One person who was likely not surprised by Simmons' performance this summer is LSU basketball assistant coach David Patrick, who was raised in Australia before playing high school and college basketball in the United States.
Patrick played professional basketball with the Canberra Cannons of the Australian National Basketball League from 1999-2001, where he developed a close relationship with teammate Dave Simmons, Ben's father. That close relationship also extended to Ben, who was barely a toddler at the time.
While NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from discussing recruits, an Australian source contacted by TSD confirmed: "David Patrick is Ben Simmons' godfather," said the source. "David played with Dave Simmons, Ben's Dad, in the NBL and became very close friends."
Asked if that relationship would benefit LSU in Ben's college recruitment, the source replied: "Yes, I honestly believe he is a lock for LSU."
Dave Simmons is an American who was a 6-foot-9 power forward/center at Oklahoma City University, before playing professionally for three different NBL teams. Upon retiring, Simmons chose to live in Australia. Ben Simmons has duel Australian/American citizenship and could potentially transfer to a high school in the United States to complete his studies.
Other Australian prospects in the pipeline are: 6-foot-4 Dante Exum, a potential 5-star guard in 2014 who has been a friend and teammate of Simmons' since elementary school; and 6-foot-11 forward Thon Maker, the likely top prospect in 2016, who is currently a freshman at Country Day in Metairie, La. LSU reportedly has a strong position with both players.
Patrick has been on a trip to Australia and was expected to return to the United States Wednesday night.
Thomas is one to watch at Ville Platte
Mike Thomas is one of the top basketball prospects in Louisiana for 2014. After an excellent summer on the AAU circuit, Thomas has had a steady stream of college coaches make their way to see him at Ville Platte High School.
His high school coach, Tommy Jones, told TSD on Wednesday that Louisiana-Lafayette and Houston are the current leaders. However, Thomas just started his junior year and his recruitment is still in its infancy.
"Tulane is coming in here today," Jones said. "McNeese and Mississippi State have been here. We've heard from Texas A&M, Auburn and others. His AAU coach said LSU is going to be calling, but I haven't heard from them yet."
Jones said Thomas measured at 6-foot-10, 235 pounds during his recent school physical.
"I expect him to be a dominant player for us," Jones said. "His natural position is probably power forward, but we are going to let him shoot it a little bit. We will rotate him from the 3 to the 5, show a little bit of his skill."
LSU coaches scouted 2014 power forward Phil Cofer during a workout on Wednesday in Atlanta. Cofer is a 6-foot-7, 200-pound prospect out of Whitewater High School. … Lee College, featuring current LSU commitment Deng Deng, will play at Baton Rouge Community College on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. … 5-Star shooting guard and LSU recruit Keith Frazier is involved in an eligibility controversy at the high school level as Dallas ISD disputes his transfer from Irving to Kimball last year. Kimball won the state title and television station WFAA has alleged that nearly every player on the team transferred in from another school. The school district is investigating. This issue will have no affect on his college eligibility or recruitment.
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