Obama pays tribute to LSU basketball star Ben Simmons
BATON ROUGE, USA - Ben Simmons, the Australian freshman basketball star at Louisiana State University, received a brief mention from US President Barack Obama during a speech at a political rally on Thursday, January 14.
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 considered a likely top pick in next June's NBA Draft.
At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, 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 that Simmons' father, former Melbourne Tigers star Dave Simmons, and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan 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."
Duncan, who played pro basketball in Australia from 1987 to 1991, has been a standout at the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game the past three years, the matchup played annually during the February weekend of the NBA All-Star Game.
Obama also answered questions on Twitter on Thursday and was asked to pick between NBA icons Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and name dropped Simmons into that conversation.
"Love em all, but as a bulls fan got to go with mj," Obama tweeted, adding. "in baton rouge, just met lsu freshman ben simmons - will be great."
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 https://t.co/Du1gflVYp4— President Obama (@POTUS) January 14, 2016
Simmons had hoped to do more than meet Obama, saying, "Maybe I'll take him down to LSU to shoot some hoops." – Rappler.com