Ben Simmons had a monster year at Louisiana State University (LSU) in terms of stats. The heralded freshman averaged over nineteen points per game. He also averaged nearly twelve rebounds and five assists. At six foot ten and 225 pounds, Simmons is NBA-ready. His court vision and dribble-drive abilities are top notch. He also has incredible footwork for a big man, and that has NBA scouts drooling. As an individual, he has great potential, and all season he was projected to go number one in the NBA draft. Unfortunately, the game of basketball is not an individual sport.
LSU looked like a preseason lock to not only make the NCAA tournament but advance past the opening weekend. With the best freshman in college basketball, the expectations were high. It only takes one look at their season to notice how dismal the results were. Early season losses at the College of Charleston and at Houston raised some eyebrows. Hopes will still high entering the Southeastern Conference (SEC) portion of the schedule. The SEC was in a down year, and it looked to be a wide open race to finish near or at the top. LSU was able to finish with eleven wins and seven losses, but sloppy play and unmotivated teamwork troubled the team all season. They looked like walking zombies in a 71 to 38 loss to Texas A&M in the SEC tournament. While he does not deserve all the blame, Ben Simmons showed a lack of interest a majority of the season. Many times it looked as if he was more worried about his stats, his health, and his potential in the NBA than his teammates, his school, and the overall success of the season.
It is now clear to many that even though Simmons is a gifted athlete with a huge upside, the cons definitely outweigh the pros. As the season wore on, another player developed his game and is now considered by many to become the top pick in the NBA draft. Brandon Ingram of Duke showed a versatility in his one year in Durham that combined great individual play with a sense of teamwork and humility. While his stats were not as eye-popping as those of Ben Simmons, he was able to lead a young Duke team to the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament in a season marred by injuries and early entries to the NBA from the previous season. Ingram has a nice combination of outside shooting, the ability to get to the rim, and defensive skills. He also plays off of his teammates and distributes the ball well. The most exciting thing about Ingram is that he can only go up from here. Yes, he needs to put on some more muscle and develop more speed, but those will come with time. His six foot nine frame will fit nicely in the NBA as a small forward. Look for Ingram to be the number one pick this June in the NBA draft.
About the author
Ben Billman is currently a doctoral teaching assistant at the United States Sports Academy. He lives in Mobile, Alabama with his wife Jennifer and son Derrick. He is originally from Indiana, and therefore has a deep love for the game of basketball.