Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Australian basketball star, Ben Simmons, has received a brief mention from US president Barack Obama during a speech at a political rally.
Simmons, a 19-year-old forward from Melbourne, is averaging 20.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists this season for the 10-6 Tigers and is all but guaranteed to be selected first or second in next June’s NBA draft.
At 208 centimetres tall and 109 kilograms, Simmons ranks 23rd among all major US college players in scoring, third in rebounds and level 46th in assists. He leads all first-year players in scoring and rebounds and shares the freshman assists lead.
Obama appeared at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, where LSU is located.
He noted Simmons’ father, former Melbourne Tigers NBL star Dave Simmons, and US secretary of education Arne Duncan, who played in Australia from 1987 to 1991 and is a regular in celebrity game on NBA All-Star weekend, had played each other in Australia.
“They can hoop, but I think they would both acknowledge that Ben is better,” Obama said, “and it’s wonderful to have him here.”
Obama, who installed a basketball court at the White House shortly after being elected, also answered questions on Twitter and was asked to pick between NBA icons Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and dropped Simmons’ name into that conversation.
“Love em all, but as a bulls fan got to go with mj. in baton rouge, just met lsu freshman ben simmons – will be great,” Obama’s @POTUS account tweeted.
Simmons had hoped to do more than meet Obama, saying: “Maybe I’ll take him down to LSU to shoot some hoops”.
– with agencies