Only three games into his college basketball career, and Ben Simmons has already established himself as the most complete player in the nation. After being the consensus top prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, Simmons came into Baton Rouge with as much pressure as any No. 1 player in recent memory. There are plenty of people who don’t buy into the hype. Make no mistake about it, though, because Simmons is as close to LeBron James as college basketball has ever seen.
At 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, he is already bigger and stronger than LeBron at the same age. While he isn’t as explosive as the former MVP, Simmons still sports a 41.5 inch vertical and runs the court like a gazelle. However, his physical gifts are just a fraction of what make Simmons so special.
Like James, Simmons’ court vision is his most impressive skill. He has terrific touch and excels at giving his teammates perfect lead passes in transition. On top of that similarity, Simmons has the same team-first mentality that has made James such a legendary player. With his advanced ball-handling skills and consistent finishing ability, Simmons could go for 25 points a night if he took as many shots as most leading scorers in college basketball. Instead, he keeps his teammates engaged by distributing at a high level.
Simmons is listed as a forward, but he could run a team as well as any point guard in the nation. That’s not an exaggeration either. Right now his assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly 5-to-1. I challenge you to find many other point guards with that number. Of course it’s still early in the season, but Simmons’ ability to score, rebound, defend and distribute seem only comparable to King James. Now that’s not to say that he is as talented as him, but he’s definitely built in the same mold.
Numbers aren’t everything, but Simmons is averaging 18.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 2.0 steals on 63 percent shooting from the field. LSU has played some small schools thus far, but Simmons has yet to even show his entire skill set. He matches up against potential lottery pick Henry Ellenson on Monday, so expect Simmons to put on a show.
Simmons may not be on the same level as King James, but for college basketball, it’s safe to say that he has the potential to at least be the prince.