NCB On The Trail: Ben Simmons

videoNow that the rosters are set for the 38th annual McDonald’s All American Game -- featuring the top 24 senior high school basketball players in the country -- let's take a closer look at the East team and a few of the many strengths its players will bring when they take on the West team April 1 at United Center in Chicago (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Help is on the way for the SEC 

January, 28, 2015
Jan 28
9:30
AM ET
video
The SEC had a blockbuster recruiting year and it wasn’t just Kentucky and Florida. The Wildcats currently hold the No. 1 spot in our class rankings but eight SEC classes made our top 40. The talent is spread out as 19 top-100 prospects will be entering the SEC next year.

We've already touched on the loaded ACC. Let’s take a look at where the SEC's help will be coming from next season.

Most impactful class: LSU

Although Texas A&M's group will push the Aggies up in the standings, LSU's class (ranked No. 6) has two top-15 prospects who will make the biggest impact. Having Ben Simmons (No. 1) and Antonio Blakeney (No. 14) arrive in Baton Rouge together will bring offense and scoring options to a roster that should be primed to challenge Kentucky for the top spot in the SEC. Simmons will be impactful from Day 1 as he brings tremendous versatility and advanced basketball instincts along with high-level athleticism. Blakeney gets buckets. Whether it’s a set play or a broken play, he can produce points with his jumper, with a drive, by creating fouls or with fast-break points. Blakeney not only brings offense, he brings offensive confidence, which is a must as you jump to the next level. Coach Johnny Jones has no departing senior starters and also has transfer Craig Victor (Arizona) ready to play in December. Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey's NBA draft status is a question worth asking. If they return, Simmons and Blakeney won’t have any direct pressure on them, and Jones will have a deep and talented roster.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The disparaging comments started early this season -- like first-night-of-the-season early.

That’s when Missouri lost at home to UMKC and Ole Miss fell in overtime against Charleston Southern. After back-to-back seasons of only three NCAA tournament bids for the SEC, most thought it would be more of the same this campaign.

[+] EnlargeBen Simmons
Courtesy Steven RyanLSU landing No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons is huge not just for the Tigers but for the SEC as a whole.
Not much has changed since, with only four SEC teams in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology -- including two teams (LSU and Georgia) among the “Last Four Byes.” If that holds, it means the SEC will have received 14 NCAA tournament bids over the last four seasons, the lowest among the Power 5 conferences by a significant amount.

That should shift dramatically over the next few seasons, though, as the SEC’s “other” teams have improved the talent level in the league with the Class of 2015 more than perhaps any other conference. Kentucky has the No. 1 class in the country and Florida sits at No. 8, but those two are the annual staples at the top of the standings -- this season’s Gators notwithstanding.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

video
The player rankings in all three high school classes (ESPN 100, 60 and 25) have been updated. We base our rankings on the four Ps: Performance, production potential and projection, among many other factors. First we analyze and evaluate a prospect's individual performance, his production level now and possibly at the collegiate level, his potential in the college game, and where he could land on a possible professional draft board.

The player rankings also affect a school's class rankings, which have also been updated. Since our last update in September, some of our evaluations have changed or been confirmed. We are midway through the high school season in our rankings and there's still time for more movement, as this is a fluid process.

Here are five things to know about the new rankings.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Recruiting Roundtable: Hoophall Classic preview 

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
9:30
AM ET

The Hoophall Classic, a five-day event that features some of the nation's best high school teams and prospects, begins Thursday in Springfield, Massachusetts. Our experts discuss the biggest storylines heading into the action.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five observations: Cancer Research Classic 

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
10:30
AM ET
WHEELING, W. Va. -- Here's what we saw at the Cancer Research Classic, a tournament featuring some of the nation's best Catholic high schools.

1. Ben Simmons (No. 1 in ESPN 100) did his best to put to rest any debate of who is the best player in the 2015 class. This past Friday Mr. Simmons put together the "perfect" game, scoring 26 points and not missing a single shot or free throw. He went 11-for-11 from the field, 2-of-2 from 3 and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. He added five rebounds and six assists for good measure. Simmons is pretty much a man among boys at this point. If he can consistently knock down the perimeter jump shot, he completes the puzzle at the high school level.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

One-on-one with No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons 

December, 23, 2014
12/23/14
10:00
AM ET
video
Ben Simmons -- the No. 1 prospect in the senior class and an LSU commit -- is leading his Montverde Academy (No. 1) team and impacting games with his versatility by way of scoring, rebounding and handing out assists. When you evaluate his game closely, it's easy to see that it's his passing vision and accuracy that make him special and others better.

Simmons is a native of Australia and has a father who played college basketball in the states (Oklahoma City College) and professionally in Australia at the highest level (Melbourne Tigers). His father, Dave, has aided in his development and has passed down some high level instincts for the game. Ben Simmons wants to be great, and quickly acknowledges his need to improve defensively and not to lose his focus and intensity during games.

The number of Australian-born players making an impact in college basketball is growing and Simmons will be the next one to do so.

I sat down with Simmons, who is quietly dominating the high school landscape.

1. You came to this country as a sophomore extremely talented, a little passive and with a lot promise. How did you become the No. 1 player in the country?


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five observations: City of Palms Classic 

December, 23, 2014
12/23/14
9:00
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. --- The 42nd Culligan City of Palms Classic High School Basketball Tournament brought some of the nation's top talent and teams to Southwest Florida for six days of action at Bishop Verot High School.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

What to watch: Montverde vs. Bishop O'Dowd 

December, 12, 2014
12/12/14
9:00
AM ET

The high school basketball season is now in full swing and ESPN2 will feature a marquee matchup on Friday at 6:30 pm ET where No.1 Montverde Academy (Fla.) will host No. 16 Bishop O'Dowd out of Oakland, California.

Here's what to watch for in this game that is headlined by two ESPN 100 Top 5 prospects in No. 1 Ben Simmons, who is headed to LSU, and No. 5 Ivan Rabb who has cut his list to California, Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona and UCLA.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

LSU signs No. 1 Ben Simmons

November, 12, 2014
11/12/14
8:36
PM ET
The LSU Tigers announced the signing of ESPN.com's top-rated prospect Ben Simmons to a national letter of intent on Wednesday.

"We are thrilled to have Ben Simmons and his wonderful family officially join the LSU basketball family," Tigers head coach Johnny Jones said on the school's website. "His talent level, hard work and passion for the game will allow him to make an immediate impact on the program."

Simmons averaged 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Montverde (Fla.) Academy last season. The Australian native is the only 2015 recruit for Jones and the Tigers thus far.

Roundtable: Analyzing the early signing period 

November, 12, 2014
11/12/14
9:30
AM ET


College basketball's early signing period begins Wednesday, and while 78 of the ESPN 100's prospects have committed to schools across the country, it's time to put pen to paper. Our RecruitingNation analysts break down what they expect to see before the signing window closes on Nov. 19.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Every coach wants an unselfish team, and one way to get there is by evaluating and recruiting prospects who understand the value of moving the ball and making the assist.

You can teach players how to make a pass or show film of where the ball should be thrown and what type of pass should be made, but it takes skill, timing and innate instincts to be an accomplished passer.

The following are the five best passers in the senior class, and each has a skill that separates them from their peers.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big men dominate in class of 2015 

September, 29, 2014
9/29/14
10:00
AM ET
video
A closer look at the class in 2015 shows that 10 of the top 15 prospects are either power forwards or centers. But don’t be mistaken as not all big men are the same. This is certainly not a one-size-fits-all talent pool.

Let’s look at how they are different in size, body type, skill, athletic ability and basketball IQ.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Five takeaways from Adidas Nations 

August, 6, 2014
8/06/14
8:40
AM ET
video
Adidas Nations, one of the final team events of the summer, finished its four-day run on Monday. The talent included outstanding players in the United States to top global prospects. In the championship game, 2016 adidas U.S. Lillard defeated 2016 adidas U.S. Wall, 106-78. 2015 adidas U.S. Howard won the consolation over team Europe, 52-46.

My five takeaways


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Peach Jam Day 2 recap 

July, 18, 2014
7/18/14
7:46
AM ET
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League finals at the Peach Jam are arguably the No. 1 basketball event of the spring and summer club circuit. The Peach Jam features the teams with the 24 best records from the four-session Nike EYBL season. Here are some of the top performances from the action of the first full day.

Chris Clarke
2015, SF, 6-foot-5, 195 pounds
Travel Team: Boo Williams

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES