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Wednesday / February 22.

Australian Ben Simmons Following in Exum and Bogut’s Footsteps

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Special to ZAGSBLOG

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you were to walk by Ben Simmons, you would think he is a normal high school kid. A really tall, normal high school kid.

But in many ways, this is not the case.

A 6-foot-9, 240-pound, junior forward from Montverde (FL) Academy who has verbally committed to LSU, Simmons has made the move from Melbourne, Australia, and wants to follow in the wake of two other high-level players from Australia in current Golden State Warrior Andrew Bogut, and likely lottery pickĀ Dante Exum.

Exum has yet to announce his plans but is projected as a top-five pick in the 2014 Draft.

“It’s definitely been a goal of mine to play in the NBA,” Simmons told after he scored 28 points in an easy 98-39 win over South Atlanta on Friday afternoon at the Wild Wing Hoops Classic. “I grew up with Dante too, so we’ve always had the same goals.”

Ranked No. 4 in the Class of 2015 by ESPN, Simmons knows that if he wants to achieve that goal, he will need to improve some aspects of his game that haven’t been as necessary to succeed at the high school level.

“I need to improve my jump shot more than anything right now,” Simmons said. “I’m just working on doing the little things and getting better.”

Montverde Academy will face St. James (MD) Saturday night at 9:15, with the possibility of facing Brooklyn Lincoln (N.Y.) and Isaiah Whitehead in the championship game on Monday night, a team who took them to overtime last week at the City of Palms in Fort Myers, or nationally ranked Northside Christian Academy (N.C), who beat Arlington Country Day (FL) on Friday night 100-90.

“I’d like to play Lincoln again,” Simmons said. “But we’re just going to play whoever we have to.”

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Photo: 247 Sports

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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.