High five awaits Big Ben Simmons

Australian Ben Simmons in action for LSU. Photo: AAP Image
Australian Ben Simmons in action for LSU. Photo: AAP Image

Hands up how many basketball fans had heard of a "five-for-five" until Aussie college sensation Ben Simmons started drawing comparisons with several former and current NBA greats.

In case you hadn't heard, the 208cm LSU Tigers freshman and son of former Melbourne Tigers power forward Dave Simmons, has US basketball commentators in raptures.

Some have already compared his offensive game to NBA superstar LeBron James and his passing skills to retired legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

The Melbourne-born Louisiana State University freshman continues to draw glowing comparisons with several NBA legends as he dominates in all statistical categories for his so far unbeaten college team.

But he is a different player to LeBron - regarded as a complete package. Simmons is taller, slicker, moves better and already looks to have a better passing game which has been likened to that of mercurial guard Johnson, considered the best in the NBA.

His amazing mobility and versatility for someone standing so tall makes him extremely difficult to match up on and to stop at both ends of the court with his quickness, reach and ability to either beat players off the dribble or find the open man with a bullet-like pass.

Ben Simmons shoots for the Tigers. Photo: Getty Images.
Ben Simmons shoots for the Tigers. Photo: Getty Images.

In three games this season the player widely tipped to go No.1 in next year's NBA draft, is averaging 16.5 points a game, 11.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists, leading LSU to a 3-0 start to the season.

Because of his amazing all-round ability, which allows him to play any position on the floor, there's mounting talk he could become the first player in US College history to record a five-for-five - five figures in five different categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks).

While triple-doubles are commonplace in the NBA and even happen in Australia's NBL, quadruple doubles and a five-for-five are extremely rare.

Nine players in NBA history have posted five-for-fives and Simmons is tipped to be the 10th.

The first was Julius Erving, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon, who did it an amazing six times, David Robinson, Derrick Coleman, Vlade Divac, Jamaal Tinsley, Andrei Kirilenko, Marcus Camby and Nicolas Batum.

In his most recent game, Simmons had 23 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Australian legend Andrew Gaze says the comparisons with LeBron James are not over the top and believes young Simmons would be an amazing addition to the Boomers team for next year's Rio Olympics.

The problem with that, however, is whether the team that drafts Simmons - rated top draft pick ahead of Kentucky centre Skal Labissiere and Croatian Dragan Bender - be willing to risk their huge investment to let him play for Australia at the Olympics, knowing their prized recruit could get injured.

The answer is probably, no.


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