As expected, the LSU men’s basketball team landed the nation’s No. 1 prospect Wednesday when Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, signed a national letter of intent for the 2015-16 season.
Simmons, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward, is a native of Melbourne, Australia, who made a non-binding commitment to the LSU program on Oct. 14, 2013 — just nine months after he and his parents relocated to Florida.
After the long wait, Simmons made his college choice official in a signing ceremony that included several teammates at the school Wednesday afternoon — signing the papers with his parents, Dave and Julie, flanking him.
Dave Simmons is a New York City native who played at Oklahoma City College and then professionally in Australia, where he became friends with LSU assistant head coach David Patrick. Ben Simmons is Patrick’s godson.
Simmons, who was named the nation’s top junior when he averaged 18.5 points and 9.6 rebounds a game and helped Montverde to a second straight national championship a year ago, never wavered after committing to coach Johnny Jones and his program.
Simmons’ ability to shoot from the high post, wing and baseline, and attack the rim when he gets the opportunity quickly got him on the radar of most schools after his family moved to Florida nearly two years ago. He’s also rated highly for his ability to pass the ball to teammates using either hand.
Dave and Julie Simmons accompanied their son on an unofficial visit to LSU last weekend, where they took in the Tigers’ exhibition win over Morehouse College on Friday night and the LSU football team’s game with Alabama the next evening.
Simmons was the only player to sign with LSU on Wednesday although the Tigers are still believed to be courting shooting guards Antonio Blakeney of Sarasota, Florida, and Brandon Sampson of Madison Prep in Baton Rouge.
Blakeney and Sampson have both indicated they won’t sign during the one-week early signing period that ends Nov. 19 and will wait until the spring.
Blakeney, a teammate of Simmons in summer ball, is a five-star recruit and the No. 14 overall prospect in this year’s class by ESPN.com, while Sampson is Louisiana’s top recruit and ranked 32nd nationally on ESPN’s top 100.
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.