Ben Simmons finally made it to Philadelphia on Tuesday — and it sounds like he’ll be spending much more time in the City of Brotherly Love.
Simmons, the one-and-done former LSU star who has been the presumptive first pick in the 2016 NBA draft since before he signed with the Tigers, was told by the Philadelphia 76ers that they plan to select him with the first selection Thursday night, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
76ers officials, when reached by The Philadelphia Inquirer, had no response to the report. Simmons wrote in an Instagram post, “Trust the process.” The ex-LSU forward had not worked out for the 76ers, who won the draft lottery last month, until Tuesday, when he met with the team at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Inquirer reported.
The sides’ inability to connect prompted more than a little speculation that the 76ers might consider Duke forward Brandon Ingram with the top selection instead. But the 76ers apparently are sold on Simmons, who averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals during his lone season in Baton Rouge.
Simmons later told ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that he was in Philadelphia to “introduce myself.”
An NBA scout told The Advocate last week that Simmons should be the top pick — and now it looks like the 76ers are on board with that.
“The combination of size, athleticism and passing ability, obviously at his young age, will be too much to pass up,” the scout said of the 6-foot-10 Australian, who turns 20 next month.
LSU has had 14 players drafted in the first round, but Shaquille O’Neal (1992, Orlando Magic) is the lone No. 1 selection. Jarell Martin went to the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 25 pick last year; he was the Tigers’ first first-round pick since 2008.
The 76ers finished last season 10-72. Thursday night will be just the second time the team will make the draft’s top pick in the lottery era; it selected Allen Iverson with the first selection in 1996.
The Los Angeles Lakers have the No. 2 pick.