Ben Simmons, arguably the top player in the Class of 2015 and the potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, made his debut for LSU on Saturday in an 89-75 win over Newcastle All-Stars in the first game of LSU’s Australia trip.
Simmons led the Tigers with 22 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 37 minutes. LSU’s other heralded freshman, Antonio Blakeney, finished with 16 points. Rising senior guard Keith Hornsby added 17.
LSU trailed by 10 early in the second quarter. But the Tigers wrestled away the lead for good when Simmons converted on an old-school 3-point play with over three minutes to go in the second quarter. LSU ended the first half on a 12-4 run.
For Simmons, who spent the majority of the last year atop the Rivals Class of 2015 rankings, Saturday was a homecoming, playing at the Newcastle Basketball Stadium where his father, Dave Simmons, played professionally for the Newcastle Falcons in the late 1990s.
“It was amazing,” Simmons said after the game. “The last time I was here (at Newcastle Stadium) I was real young and I couldn’t dunk and do the things I do now. It’s really fun and it was great seeing familiar faces here. The people watching me stretch was crazy to me. It was a great feeling. An unbelievable experience.”
LSU has four more games before returning to Baton Rouge. The Tigers face the Sydney Kings on Sunday night in Sydney. Following Tuesday night’s game against the Queensland All-Stars in Auchenflower, LSU finishes the tour with back-to-back games against Melbourne United on Thursday and Saturday.