Who’s Got Next? Ben Simmons Joins a Beefy LSU Class, Tennessee Lands a Shooter, and More…Posted by Sean Moran on October 21st, 2013
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LSU Stays Hot
Less than one week after adding powerful big man Elbert Robinson from the class of 2014, LSU’s Johnny Jones struck gold in the 2015 class with the commitment of 6’9” Australian Ben Simmons. In a surprise decision, the five-star forward went with the Tigers over schools such as Duke, Kansas, and Kentucky. Simmons is currently rated as the No. 8 player overall and No. 2 power forward in his class, despite limited time in the United States. Simmons made his first appearance in the United States in early June 2012 in California. In a three-day showcase camp, Simmons took the camp by storm, showing off the skills he honed in Melbourne. In January 2013, Simmons came over to the U.S. for good and enrolled at Montverde Academy (FL), which also happened to be the top high school team in the country. Simmons joined forces with current Florida freshman guard Kasey Hill and Kentucky center Dakari Johnson on the team.
The Tigers have been on a roll with their recent big men commitments, but Simmons will provide the team with an added dimension of versatility. In the 2013 class, Jones signed a five-star power forward in Jarrell Martin (No. 14 overall, 2013) and four-star power forward Jordan Mickey (No. 37 overall, 2013), adding to class of 2014 four-star center, Robinson (No. 59 overall, 2014). Martin possesses the most skill of the bunch and has range out to the three-point line, but he is most effective down low. Mickey’s calling cards are his rebounding and defensive abilities while Robinson is a load to handle in the post. Martin and Mickey average 230 pounds while Robinson weighs a massive 320 pounds.
As for Simmons, he is a lanky forward who barely tops 200 pounds and can be classified as a stretch four. He is most comfortable playing outside the paint because he can stretch defenses with his jump shot. During his time in the U.S., Simmons has shown an ability to hit pull up jumpers and threes off the dribble. He can run the break and finish with an alley-oop, or he can create for his teammates with strong dribbling and passing abilities. On the defensive end, Simmons uses his length to block shots in the paint and disrupt passing lanes on the perimeter. Given that he is 6’9”, Simmons still needs to develop a go-to post move but he has two years of high school ball to work on this deficiency.
While Robinson, Martin, and Mickey are all big-bodied power forwards and centers, Simmons will open up space in the lane with his ability to operate from all areas of the floor. His length and athletic ability will come in handy on defense but he will also be able to rely on the other big men to provide the muscle down low. It is rare these days for LSU to receive the commitment of a top 10 player, but it helps when the team’s assistant coach also doubles as the godfather of a recruit. This was the case for David Patrick, who just spent his first year on the Tiger coaching staff and also played professionally with Simmons’ father in Australia.
Other Notable Weekend Commitments
Tennessee picked up a surprise commitment from junior guard Camron Justice on Saturday during the Volunteers’ football upset of South Carolina. A native of Tennessee, Justice is a three-star guard, but one who has already scored almost 2,000 points in his first two years of high school. This past year, Justice was the leading scorer for his AAU team at 11.5 points per game and drew the attention of numerous nationally-focused head coaches such as Mark Few and Rick Pitino with his play. Despite the recent attention, Justice gave Tennessee his commitment as they were one of the schools that had been recruiting him since his freshman year. A solid athlete, Justice could struggle a bit with the quickness of defenders in the SEC, but he will provide the Volunteers with a three-point marksman who can get hot in a hurry. This past year the Volunteers only had one player who shot over 35% from the three-point line, which is an area the coaching staff wanted to address in the future. Along with Justice, the Volunteers have also signed shooting guard Jordan Cornish in the class of 2014 who was described as a “pure shooter” by his high school coach.
Four-star power forward Zylan Cheatham is expected to announce his college choice this week, choosing between San Diego State, New Mexico, and Washington. The Arizona native is currently ranked as the No. 16 power forward and No. 76 overall in the class of 2014. At 6’7”, Cheatham is a bit undersized for a college power forward but uses his athleticism to make up for his lack of height. Last summer he averaged 6.5 rebounds per game during the famed Nike Peach Jam, where Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar was front and center for all of his games. San Diego State is looking to complement its 15th-ranked recruiting class with Cheatham as the Aztecs have already received commitments from four-star small forward Malik Pope, four-star shooting guard Trey Kell and three-star shooting guard Kevin Zabo.