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Ben Simmons makes the expected official: He’s entering the NBA draft

Ben Simmons

,FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2015, file photo, LSU’s Ben Simmons looks to pass against the College of Charleston during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C. As the Southeastern Conference heads into league competition, it remains tough to figure which teams stand as defending champion Kentucky’s biggest competition. Simmons ranks second nationally in rebounding (13.0) and fourth in the SEC in scoring (19.3). (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)


There are plenty of questions in NBA circles about Ben Simmons:

What is his ceiling? Will he be better than peak Lamar Odom? Is his jumper fixable? Does he want it bad enough to fix the jump shot, improve on defense, and reach his potential? Is he a better choice at No. 1 than Brandon Ingram?

However, there was never any question he was going to come out, and on Sunday night he made that official speaking to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.

“I’m making it official,” Simmons said late Sunday night.

Simmons put up impressive box score stats at LSU — 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game — but his LSU team was just 19-14, and Simmons had some lackluster performances in the team’s biggest games. He’s an unquestionably gifted athlete at 6'10" with the skills and mindset of a point guard. He can dazzle.

Every scout or college basketball expert I’ve spoken to — including NBC’s college basketball guru Rob Dauster and NBA Draft Blog (and Rotoworld writer) Ed Isaacson on the NBC/PBT podcast — said he has the potential to be an NBA franchise player, but he has a lot farther to go to get there than recent players such as Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns. Simmon’s jumper isn’t just a little off, it’s a mess. And the bigger concern in some corners is the question of his passion for the game — will he put in the work needed to get his game near that potential?

Still, whatever team ends up with the No. 1 pick likely takes Simmons. He’s still on top of most draft boards, because teams are drafting on the potential of what a guy can be in three or five years, not who he is today.