From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior power forward, Montverde (Fla.) Academy
Greatness Present: There are plenty of amazing sights to enjoy in Melbourne, Australia. Luckily, if 20-hour flights or parading around the Queen Victoria Market aren’t your thing, one of Melbourne’s most impressive attractions is putting on a show in the United States.
In case you haven’t heard, Melbourne native and Montverde Academy standout Ben Simmons is quite a prep basketball player—the best in the nation, some might even say. Let’s face it, how many times have you seen someone throw himself an alley-oop off the backboard?
These days, the accolades are rolling in fast and furiously for the 6-foot-9, 225-pound power forward, who arrived in the U.S. and Montverde Academy in 2013. To no one’s surprise, he was one of 24 players selected last week to participate in April’s 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game. Simmons has helped Montverde to a No. 2 national ranking with a string of impressive performances to date this season.
Most recently, he captured all-tournament honors after a 33-point explosion in a 67-57 win over Orlando First Academy in Saturday’s Montverde Academy Invitational final. Last month, Simmons also helped torch perennial powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman at the Hoophall Classic with 36 points and nine rebounds in a 76-57 win—an effort that was actually labeled “subpar” based on his lofty standards.
Simmons has averaged 27.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks this season for the Fighting Eagles (26-1).
Next up for Simmons and Montverde Academy is a date with nationally ranked Roselle Catholic at the Metro Classic in Union, N.J. There may be good seats still available—and it’s a lot closer than Melbourne.
Greatness Past: Simmons helped Montverde Academy to a 28-0 record and a top national ranking as a junior in 2013-14. Prior to that, he was a member of Australia’s FIBA Oceania championship squad.
Greatness Future: Simmons has signed with LSU.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.