Ben Simmons is still pretty steamed at the NCAA, even though he’s had about four months to get over it.
The former LSU player and current rookie with the Philadelphia 76ers saw his documentary “One and Done,” premiere on Showtime. And, apparently, he decided to chuck his spring semester classes because he already had a goal in mind of getting to the NBA. All the while, Simmons threw shade at the NBA’s rule that dictated players entering the draft be a year removed from high school in order to be eligible.
While the one-and-done rule was designed to provide potential NBA players with at least a year of college prior to jumping into the draft, it was rather clear that Simmons wanted nothing to do with this arrangement.
You could make the argument that considering his talent (he was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft), he serves as the exception to the rule; a LeBron James, if you will, as opposed to a Kwame Brown.
At the same time, there have been at least a couple of ways in which Simmons could have side-stepped this rule and, in at least one scenario, he could have made a nice chunk of change.
On one hand, Simmons could have opted to spend a year at a prep school, as fellow 2016 lottery pick Thon Maker had. Or he could have followed in the footsteps of Brandon Jennings, who decided to play professionally in Europe before heading home to declare for the draft.
No matter how you shake it, though, it was pretty clear for everyone involved that Simmons wasn’t long for LSU by any stretch of the imagination. And the initial shock of head coach Johnny Jones announcing that the Tigers would play in no post-season tournaments after a 19-14 season wore off pretty quickly.
There’s no expectation that any other player will follow the same path that Simmons did on the way to the NBA. In fact, if any of them did, basketball programs would be losing their collective minds thinking about the potential APR ramifications. Can you imagine if Kentucky, who had its entire squad take part in pre-draft workouts (a completely legal thing now) had lost all of them.
Regardless of those theoretical situations, nobody is really sure what Simmons was hoping to accomplish with his documentary. If he was trying to point out the evils of the one-and-done system, he did a pretty poor job of it by phoning in an entire semester, while, at the same time, still able to play basketball and live on campus. And all of that, of course, was well within the rules.
And it didn’t really help matters that once the Tigers opted out of the post-season after they lost in the SEC Tournament, Simmons was running around the country getting workouts in prior to the draft. Keep in mind that all the while, he was still technically on scholarship until the end of the semester that he clearly didn’t show up for.
You can’t really blame him for any of this, though. In the end, everybody got what they wanted. LSU got itself the biggest hoops draw since Shaquille O’Neal. And Simmons got access to craft his game in preparation to make the big bucks in the pros.
Did it leave him with a little less money in his pocket? Sure. But if he had been able to jump from high school to the NBA, would he have been the top pick? Probably not, and there’s a decent bet he wouldn’t have been a top-three pick either. So, in the long run money-wise, it’s a zero-sum game.
If anything, though, the Simmons saga, culminating in this Showtime documentary, did prove that there are some people for whom college just isn’t a fit. For some, it’s because they have talent in which formal training isn’t needed. For others, they don’t possess the wherewithal to handle the rigors of advanced study. And in all cases, it usually takes about a semester or two for them to figure out on their own that they need to go in another direction.
For Simmons, it would appear that the former is true.
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