After announcing Sunday night that he would put his name in the NBA draft, it didn’t figure to take long for former LSU All-American Ben Simmons to sign on with an agent.
That part of his journey from the college basketball to a professional career officially took place Wednesday when the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Simmons, the potential top pick in the June 23 draft, announced in a online video message that he had signed with the Klutch Sports Group.
“I just wanted to let you guys know the past few days for me have been busy and productive, and that I’ve come to the decision that I’ve signed with Klutch Sports Group,” Simmons said in the video. “For me, that’s a big step in the right direction.
“I believe it’s another family for me. Now it’s all about putting in the hard work and getting ready for that next level. It’s an exciting period for me, but, you know, I’m looking forward to it.”
It wasn’t much of a surprise considering Yahoo!Sports, citing NBA sources, reported March 14 that Simmons would sign with Cleveland-based Klutch.
That news broke just hours after LSU coach Johnny Jones said his team wouldn’t participate in a postseason tournament — effectively ending Simmons’ career with the Tigers after one season.
Klutch Sports Group was founded in 2012 by Rich Paul, a close friend of NBA superstar LeBron James. In addition to James, Paul counts current NBA stars John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Ben McLemore among his clients.
According to the Yahoo report, James funds the agency that hired Simmons’ older sister, Emily Bush, as a marketing/branding employee in 2014. It noted her hiring came after James and Paul started recruiting Simmons as a potential future client.
Simmons attended the LeBron James Skills Academy as a 17-year-old in 2014 and spent time, along with LSU teammate Antonio Blakeney, with James and other NBA players at the Nike Basketball Academy in California last June.
After ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Monday that Simmons would enter the draft, Adam Zagoria of SportsNet New York tweeted that Simmons had officially withdrawn from school and is moving to Phoenix until the draft.
Currently, Simmons is listed as the top pick on most mock drafts although Duke’s Brandon Ingram has reportedly closed the gap.
The deadline for entering the NBA draft is April 24, which will be followed by the combine workouts May 11-15 in Chicago. The draft lottery will be held May 17 with the draft set for June 23.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.