It should come as no surprise, but LSU forward Ben Simmons is the headliner on the top 10 list of high-impact freshmen for the upcoming season by SI.com’s David Gardner.
The 6-foot-10 Simmons, whom Gardner identified as the most college-ready player in this year’s crop of first-year players, claimed the top spot over Kentucky center Skal Labissiere.
Gardner noted that Labissiere, a 7-footer, is pushing Simmons as the top pick in the 2016 NBA draft. But Simmons apparently got the nod for No. 1 on Gardner’s list because of he played at Montverde (Fla.) and is the son of former Australian professional basketball star Dave Simmons.
While the Tigers lost All-Southeastern Conference forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey to the NBA draft, Gardner expects Simmons to form another strong 1-2 duo with freshman guard Antonio Blakeney.
“He’ll produce eye-popping numbers,” Gardner wrote, “but (Simmons’) biggest challenge will be guiding LSU deep into the NCAA tournament.”
Labissiere ranked second on Gardner’s list, which had a total of four SEC players among the top six.
Mississippi State guard Malik Newman, who was heavily-recruited by LSU, took the third spot with Kentucky guard Jamal Murray coming in sixth.