Did last year really matter to likely No. 1 pick Ben Simmons?

Ben Simmons against Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Ben Simmons against Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Question: LSU had a terrible year last year, didn’t make the tournament. Johnny Jones caught a lot of criticism for the year. In the whole equation of assessing Ben Simmons, did last year really matter at all to him? Good or bad, did it matter?

BILAS: “Well, I mean, did it matter in where he’s going to get drafted? No. I think it mattered to him personally. I don’t know exactly how he processed it because I don’t know him particularly well. I’ve been around him a little bit. But I would never say that I know him.

But he didn’t really have a choice. He’s got to go somewhere. I kind of wonder, though, like what would we say if — so the decision, and it sounds like Philadelphia has already made it, but the decision was between Brandon Ingram and Simmons, so what if we had just swapped those guys and Simmons had gone to Duke and Brandon Ingram had gone to LSU. Do you think Ingram would have done things differently and turned that team into a winner, or was it more likely that Simmons would have been viewed as a big-time winner going to Duke and fitting in with a different group in a different environment?


I don’t know the answer to that, but all I know is when Simmons was in high school, he was 63-1, and he’s a good player. They don’t make them like him very often. I think he’s — he doesn’t shoot it well, but I think he can improve there. I don’t ever think he’s going to be Klay Thompson or anything, but he can improve there.

“But I like — I just don’t know the right answer as far as where should a guy who you know is going to be out after a year, where should he go, what’s the best for his brand, his talent, his future, because we are in the business of picking people apart. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing here.

“But you start wondering about, well, is he a winner or is he entitled. I’ve heard that a lot. The camera crew following him around all year long. LSU put billboards up of him before he ever got there: He’s coming. He was the chosen one at LSU before he ever got on campus and was sold and billed as such, and that’s a lot. That’s a lot on a player.

1 comment

  1. I had thought about this earlier in the season. I just don’t believe that Johnny Jones knew how to coach a player with the capabilities of Simmons. If he had gone either to UK or Duke, his year would have looked very different. LSU looked dysfunctional most of the year, which was a shame because they had talented players. With either Cal or Coach K coaching them, LSU would have probably made it to the Sweet 16 or higher.

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