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Montverde’s Simmons ready to go for LSU

July 29, 2015
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For elite basketball players, there is no offseason.

Many top-notch players work summer clinics and camps, while some make appearances at award shows and play in All-Star games designed specifically to showcase their talents.

Then there are others who return to their home country for a series of preseason games with their college programs.

For Ben Simmons, all of this applies.

The former Montverde Academy standout has been the epitome of busy since April 4, when he led the Eagles to their third straight national championship with a 70-61 win against Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Since winning the national title in a nationally televised contest, Simmons completed his academic requirements at Montverde Academy and graduated. In addition, he played in the Jordan Brand Classic Game in Portland, Oregon and walked the red carpet in Hollywood, California at the ESPY awards.

The 6-foot-9 guard/forward also wowed onlookers earlier this month at the Nike Basketball Academy with his play against NBA-caliber talent, like Houston’s high-scoring guard James Harden.

But, the most exciting offseason activity for Simmons might come when the native of Melbourne, Australia returns home in August to play exhibition games with Louisiana State University — his new college team — against local opponents. The series of games are scheduled for Aug. 15 to 22 and will be played in Newcastle, Sydney and Brisbane in addition to Melbourne.

Even more intriguing than seeing Simmons in a college uniform might be the fact that LSU’s appearance will coincide with Australia’s qualifier game for next year’s Summer Olympics against New Zealand. According to reports, Simmons asked Australian national coach Andrej Lemanis not to be considered for the team.

Instead, Simmons said he wants to “settle into his new college.”

Many basketball pundits believe Simmons could be the top pick in next year’s NBA Draft. That would make him the highest pick ever with Lake County ties — in any sport.

Currently, that honor belongs to D’Angelo Russell, a former Montverde Academy basketball player who went to the Los Angeles Lakers with the second pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Simmons’ newest accomplishments are the latest in long line of awards and accolades that highlighted his final year at Montverde Academy.

He was considered the top recruit in the country by a variety of recruiting services and named the Gatorade Boys Basketball National Player of the Year, the first ever from Montverde Academy. In addition, he won the Morgan Wootten National Boys Player of the Year and was the Naismith Trophy Boys High School Player of the Year.

Simmons also played in the prestigious McDonald’s High School All American Game in Chicago and endured a red-eye flight to New York just o be in uniform for Montverde Academy’s first game in the national championship tournament.

During his senior year — a campaign in which Montverde Academy sported a 31-1 record — Simmons averaged 28.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. In three national championship tournament games, Simmons averaged 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

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