Whirlwind Spring For World Team's Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons has just enjoyed a whirlwind month that only a handful of budding, young sports stars could ever dream about.
But now the 6-foot-10 Aussie cannot wait to get back to doing what he does best - playing basketball and making his mark among the best young players in the world.
Simmons is coming off of a month in which he won three of the most prestigious national awards available to American high school basketball players: the Morgan Wootten Award, the Naismith Prep Player of the Year and the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Throw in his selection to the World Select Team for the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit, which takes place at 12 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, April 11 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, and an appearance at the McDonald’s All-American Game on April 1, and March was a month the Melbourne native is not soon going to forget.
But it was what happened after those personal accolades that matters most to Simmons.
Earlier this month, the forward led Montverde Academy to a third-consecutive Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament title with a 70-61 win over Oak Hill Academy at Madison Square Garden to further demonstrate why he is one of the most talked about young players in the nation.
And now, as he prepares in Portland to play for the World Select Team that takes on the USA at Hoop Summit, Simmons wants to focus on team honors, not personal glory.
“I’m just trying to play the game the right way,” said Simmons, who's American dad, Dave, was a pro basketball legend in Australia. “I believe I’m blessed to have won all those awards and accolades.
“If they keep coming then I’m honored and very happy, but if I can keep playing as I have been and the team keeps winning, but there are none of those honors, then I’m fine with that as well.
“I’m tired after the past month. It’s hard to take it all in, and I’ve been to so many photo shoots, awards nights. I’ve been so busy I’ve just been trying to let it all sink in.
“I’m still tired and, right now, I’m just trying to catch up on sleep, which is hard. But I definitely think Hoop Summit will be one of the highlights of my year, and I just want to become a better player here.”
Simmons, who grew up in Australia playing sports such as rugby and Aussie rules football, will become the 11th player from his country to appear in Nike Hoop Summit and will join a list that includes current NBA stars Patrick Mills and Dante Exum.
He admits that playing in the NBA has been a childhood dream, but first Simmons is focusing on ending an incredible 2015 by starting his college career at LSU.
“I can’t wait to get there and enjoy what I think will be another incredible experience,” he said. “That’s another reason I am looking forward to Hoop Summit. It is the chance to play against all the best U.S. players, on one team, players who I will be going up against in college over the next few years. It’s another good opportunity for me.”Don’t miss your chance to see the USA Junior National Team in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 11. If you are in the Portland area, get your tickets at usab.com/nikehoopsummit.