LSU

No. 1: Ben Simmons Tops 2016 NBA Draft

June 23, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La.-  LSU All-America point-forward Ben Simmons realized his dream Thursday night when National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver called his name at the Barclays Center as the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Simmons became the second LSU men’s basketball player picked No. 1 in the NBA draft joining Shaquille O’Neal who was picked first in the 1992 draft by the Orlando Magic.

Simmons is the eighth LSU athlete to be pick No. 1 in any of the major professional leagues in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball.

Tigers in the NBA Draft

Simmons, in his one-and-done freshman season, was the first player in Southeastern Conference history to finish in the top five in the league in points, rebounds and assists. The native of Melbourne, Australia averaged 19.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game and 4.97 assists. He also averaged 1.97 steals and shot 56 percent from the free throw line.

Simmons won the Wayman Tisdale Award as national Freshman of the Year and was a first-team All-America, making him the ninth first-team All-America in LSU men’s basketball history.

Coach Johnny Jones and teammates Keith Hornsby and Darcy Malone were among those making the trip to New York to share in the draft night with the No. 1 pick.       

It marked the first time Philadelphia had the first pick in the NBA Draft for the first time since choosing Allen Iverson with the top selection in 1996.

“It’s been a great experience to coach such a special player and see his dreams fulfilled on draft night being selected No. 1. I’m excited for Ben and his wonderful family along with our LSU program and great fans. The Philadelphia 76ers are in for a real treat.”

Live updates from 2016 NBA Draft night: 

11:22 p.m. CT – 

9:25 p.m. – 

7:45 p.m. –  

Head Coach Johnny Jones on Ben Simmons‘ No. 1 selection: 

“It’s been a great experience to coach such a special player and see his dreams fulfilled on draft night being selected No. 1. I’m excited for Ben and his wonderful family along with our LSU program and great fans. The Philadelphia 76ers are in for a real treat.”

7:30 p.m. –

Simmons said he has to find the best cheese steak in Philadelphia. The rest of the transcript from his press conference is below: 

BEN SIMMONS: I’m happy to be part of the family now. It’s a weight off my chest. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a while, so I’m glad I’ve made history, not only for myself but my family and Australian basketball.

Q. Ben, after all the buildup, what does it finally feel like once you heard your name?

BEN SIMMONS: It honestly feels like all this pressure just has hopped off me. Now I can relax, but now I know where I’m going to be. More importantly, I know where I’m headed and know I can really start working on what I need to work on for the team.

Q. I read that you wanted to be in the NBA since you were seven years old and you accomplished that goal in 12 years. How does that feel? And do you have any advice for kids that want to accomplish their goal?

BEN SIMMONS: It feels amazing, honestly. I can’t even — my legs were shaking when I was on stage. Anything you want to do, you can do, honestly. I’ve been wanting to do that since I was five, six, seven, and I’ve finally accomplished that.

Q. You posted on Instagram the other day, “Trust the process.” What inspired you to do that?

BEN SIMMONS: Sixers. I’m a part of the family now, so you’ve got to trust it. You’ve got to go with it and you’ve got to work hard. 

Q. Did you have any sort of understanding of where that phrase came from or what it means?

BEN SIMMONS: A little bit. A little bit. I know it’s been said around a lot of the Sixers’ community, so I’m a little bit aware of it.

Q. Lots of young guys in your position have had knock-back setbacks along the way. Did you have any of those, and what would you say to those people now who might have told you, you may not make this?

BEN SIMMONS: Nothing, honestly. They’ve seen me make it, so I mean, there’s a lot of work that goes into it. There’s always going to be people who say you can’t do things, but obviously I’ve worked hard enough to get here, and I’m blessed.

Q. And to the young kids who might be doubting themselves right now, what would you say?

BEN SIMMONS: You can do anything, honestly. You’ve just got to put the work in and the time. You’ve just got to believe in yourself. 

Q. You said you now can get to work the things you need to work on. What are some of those things specifically as you want to adapt your game to the NBA?

BEN SIMMONS: Everything, from eating right to getting my body right for 82 games, to dribbling, to shooting, just everything, ball handling. I think everything really needs to be worked on because you’re going to that next level where guys have been in the league for 10-plus years, so they have a lot of experience.

Q. What was it like to share this moment with your mom, your dad and your grandparents from just around the corner here in the Bronx?

BEN SIMMONS: It’s amazing. Seeing my dad play professionally in Australia and my grandpa, he wasn’t into sports or anything like that, he just worked hard. And being able to share that with him and see where his son has gone and taken it and having me be here, and having them there is very special to me.

Q. Going to Philadelphia, how much work do you think you’re going to have do with the team to get it potentially into the playoffs?

BEN SIMMONS: A lot of work every day. I think overall it just one of those things that takes time.

Q. Seeing as how good you were at LSU at ball handling, when the Sixers met with you did they talk to you being the primary ball handler on the team?

BEN SIMMONS: Definitely. They know I can play the point forward position and I’m comfortable bringing the ball up, so I think that’s one of those things we’ll talk about and discuss a lot.

Q. You mentioned your family, your father, your grandfather in the Bronx. How much did their upbringing influence you to getting where you are today?

BEN SIMMONS: A lot. Dad, he’s a hard worker. He’s the type of player that was a bruiser. He wasn’t finesse or anything like that. We’re two completely different players. But I think the way he was raised rubbed off on me a lot.

Q. Curious, what do you remember most about Allen Iverson and Pat’s or Geno’s cheese steak?

BEN SIMMONS: A lot of people don’t know that I actually had a poster of AI when I was young in my room. I was a big diamond-cut poster of him with the braids. But no, I just remember him being one of those point guards, a smaller guy with braids and corn rows and the headbands. I remember I used to have the corn rows when I was younger. He was one of those players that fought every day.

Q. Pat’s or Geno’s cheese steak?

BEN SIMMONS: Which one did I have? Oh, yeah, cheese steaks. I’m going to try a lot of them. I’ve got to find my spot, apparently. 

6:40 p.m. –

Ben Simmons in ESPN Interview after selection at No. 1 – “It’s amazing. I’m happy the Sixers chose me. I’ve been working so hard to get to this point. It’s a great city. I’m looking forward to getting to Philly.

When asked about his confidence when Philly was the only team he worked out for – “It feels good. I feel relaxed and I’m comfortable with the system. Great coaches. Great people. Great young team and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Dave Simmons, who played for 76ers Coach Brett Brown in 1989 in Australia. Asked about what advice he would give his son regarding Coach Brown – “I think Coach Brown is a very passionate coach and loves the sport and is very detailed. So if Ben just follows his lead, I think he’ll do just fine.”

Asked about when he knew he could be an NBA player – “Well we’ve talked about this all the time and maybe not until the last couple of years as a lot of hurdles to jump and you have to maintain whatever the position you have and Ben done a fantastic job of maintaining that No. 1 ranking for the most few years.” 

6:35 p.m.  

The 76ers get the 6-10 PF from Melbourne, Australia. 

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