Of the aforementioned contingent, only Russell will return next season. So naturally, Boyle is thinking reload.
This week, the coach learned he’ll be coaching a likely top 10 prospect in the Class of 2015 next year. Sophomore power forward Ben Simmons of Melbourne, Australia, will spend his final two seasons under Boyle at Montverde.
Simmons’ father, Dave, hails from Oklahoma City, Okla., and was a fantastic professional player in Australia. He liked the place so much he stayed. However, Dave Simmons told me last June that his son would play college basketball. In an email this week, the elder Simmons laid out why Ben will play high school ball in the United States.
“Ben traveled a lot in 2012 -- China, Spain, Lithuania for the Under-17 Word Championships, L.A. for Pangos and adidas Nations,” Dave Simmons wrote. “We were really grateful that he had those opportunities, but this kind of schedule is pretty demanding and makes it difficult to focus on school.
“We felt that it would be a good situation for him where he could complete another semester of Year 10 to make sure his grades are okay. Getting into a good college is the goal for Ben, and we feel that the U.S. school system is best placed for him to achieve this. We think that Montverde Academy will be able to support and develop Ben in a positive way.”
Sophomore PF Ben Simmons is quickly becoming one of the best players in the 2015 class.
Believe me, Montverde will find a way to make it a positive situation for Simmons. It won’t be hard. This kid is a player. At last year’s Pangos Camp, he forced the spotlight his way. At the time, I hypothesized he’d be one of the elite talents in the country if he played in the States. Think of him as a top 10 prospect in the Class of 2015 -- and that’s fairly conservative.
Simmons is already entrenched in the Australian national team program and played with the country’s 17-and-under squad. He’s a hybrid four-man with range, size and strong athletic ability. The lefty is an all-around talent and affects games with his passing, vision and overall basketball IQ. Should we be surprised? His dad is one of the all-time leading scorers with the Melbourne Tigers.
So who has the jump on the kid in recruiting? St. John’s, San Diego State and UCLA have had him on campus. But his recruitment hasn’t even begun, according to his father.
“We really haven't started the recruiting phase as Ben's only in grade 10,” Dave said. “I'm sure maybe after the summer we will start to talk more seriously to some schools.”
No program has gone to Australia specifically to see him since his emergence onto the scene. Bet they wish they would have.
With Simmons coming to the States, the playing field just leveled out. The wise programs will jump hard on him quickly in anticipation of his arrival. It will be interesting to see if someone jumps aggressively enough to go see him in action in Australia before he heads this way.
If Simmons is looking to feel good about his decision, consider this: Boyle coaches pros. While at St. Patrick (N.J.) in 1997, he coached No. 1 overall prospect Al Harrington, who went straight from high school to the NBA. Boyle has also coached Kyrie Irving, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a host of other top prospects at St. Patrick and Montverde.