Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
SEC Recruits Labissiere, Simmons Could Go 1-2 in 2016 NBA Draft
The SEC could feature the projected 1-2 picks in the 2016 NBA Draft next season in Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere and LSU’s Ben Simmons.
Both players impressed NBA personnel this past week at the Nike Hoop Summit.
“Ben Simmons and Skal Labissiere were clearly the two best players in the game,” one former NBA GM told SNY.tv. “They could be the first and second pick in the 2016 Draft.”
DraftExpress.com elevated the 7-foot Labissiere to No. 1 in 2016 leading up to the Hoop Summit, ahead of uncommitted wing Jaylen Brown at No. 2 and Simmons at No. 3.
Labissiere went for 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocks in the World’s 103-101 win over the U.S. on Saturday in Portland, Ore.
“Skal is a lanky power forward who has all the offensive tools to become a tremendous scoring threat from all over the floor,” the former GM said. “He has a nice shooting touch and appears to be a player that will become a 3-point threat at the NBA level. He needs to develop his body. He must get stronger in order to defend in the post as well as score in the low post area.”
“He reminds me of how Anthony Davis was at the same stage,” one NBA general manager told Paul Biancardi of ESPN.com. “Same body type and the same growth spurt, but not as athletic and not quite the shot blocker as Davis but a better shooter.”
Simmons went for a near-triple double-double of 13 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in the World’s win
“Ben is really skilled at 6-9,” the former GM said. “He plays more like a point forward than a true power forward. He can really pass and plays with a very high IQ. He needs to continue to work on his perimeter shooting and eventually become a competent 3-point threat.”
Simmons was slated to play in Friday’s Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center but has withdrawn to focus on finishing up at Montverde (FL) Academy and getting ready for LSU.
“I’ve decided not to play in the Jordan game,” Simmons said, according to Adelaidenow.com. “I want to turn my focus to finishing my senior year and preparing for my next step at LSU.”
Simmons has had a busy spring, winning the Naismith, Gatorade and Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year honors and leading Montverde to its third straight Dick’s National High School championship at Madison Square Garden. He then played in the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Hoop Summit.
He also won’t play with Australia in August in a two-game series against New Zealand, but remains in the mix to play with Australia in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Ben is in the mix (for the Rio Olympics) from our perspective but he’s unavailable for this campaign,” Australian coach Andrej Lemanis said, according to adelaidenow.com.
“He is getting ready to go to LSU, get his schooling under control and concentrate on his first year of college.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.