Magic Johnson believes Australian teenage sensation Ben Simmons is the best young player he has seen since LeBron James.
Melbourne-born Simmons has been on fire for Louisiana State University averaging 20.5 points and a league-high 13.1 rebounds to confirm his place as the expected No1 NBA draft pick in June.
“LSU’s Ben Simmons is the best all around player I’ve seen since LeBron James came out of high school straight to the NBA!” Johnson tweeted.
“Whatever team selects Ben Simmons, will be getting a player that will have an immediate impact on their squad!”
The NBA Draft rewards the teams with the worst records with the best chance of scoring the top pick and the Lakers are having a woeful year.
The backing from Johnson came just hours before Simmons’ LSU team inflicted a major upset victory over the University of Kentucky.
LSU won 85-67 in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, with Australian 19-year-old Simmons having a relatively quiet game for his high standards with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Tim Quarterman and forward Craig Victor stepped up after Simmons was hit with two early fouls and sat out 11 minutes of the first half against ninth-ranked Kentucky.
Kentucky coach John Calipari had warned his team the highly skilled, athletic 208cm tall Simmons was a handful.
“He is a 6-9 point guard-ish guy that will go inside, score next to the basket, makes free throws so you can’t foul him and, in transition, when he brings it up, he’s a great playmaker, Calipari said.”