Since being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016, Ben Simmons has been one of the most talented — and the most talked-about — point guards in the NBA. Proponents are in awe of Simmons’ court vision, as well as his explosive athleticism and unusual size. Detractors, meanwhile, focus primarily on Simmons’ well-documented lack of a jump shot.
With so much attention paid to his on-court game, many people overlook the fact that Simmons is also a thoughtful individual who doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind on hot button issues. In a 2017 interview with Maverick Carter, Simmons spoke candidly about his college career and his opinions on the NCAA.
Ben Simmons’ college career
Simmons grew up in Australia, where he garnered numerous accolades during his high school career. In the fall of 2015, he came to the United States to spend a single season playing with the Louisiana State University basketball team, the Tigers. He recorded a double-double during the season opener and helped his team get off to a 3-0 start.
Simmons posted some monster numbers during his lone college season, even racking up 43 points in one December game. Although the Tigers failed to secure an NCAA tournament berth, Simmons’ efforts remained stellar the entire season. In fact, he led his team in every major statistical category except for free throw and three-point percentage.
NCAA one-and-done rule controversies
Given his success at LSU, Simmons’ comments about the NCAA may cause confusion for some people. A little bit of history may help to put his critical opinions in context. To begin with, it is important to note that the NCAA has a long history of controversy, especially regarding its one-and-done rule. From point-shaving, to illicit payments, to recruiting scandals, NCAA basketball programs have made a lot of mistakes in the past.
NCAA scandals have continued as recently as 2018, when Arizona’s coach was accused of making arrangements to pay then high-schooler Deandre Ayton $100,000 as a recruiting bonus. This scandal underlined a key hypocrisy in the world of college basketball.
Although the players are technically treated like amateurs, bribes and under-the-table compensations prove that the athletes are actually worth huge money.
As the player empowerment era continues to gain momentum, many pros are now speaking out against what they consider a corrupt NCAA system. They argue that college players make huge amounts of money for their teams, and deserve to be compensated for that effort. Especially since the NBA’s 19-year-old age limit basically forces players to spend a season playing for a college team.
What Ben Simmons said
During his interview with Carter, Ben Simmons states that he got virtually nothing out of his college experience, whether in terms of “what I learned, financially, or just being a person at LSU.” Simmons also acknowledges that the only ones who benefit from star players spending a year in college are the NCAA sports programs, who would otherwise be losing potential profits.
Simmons also spoke candidly in an interview about the NCAA in a documentary released in 2016. There he spoke in even harsher terms, stating that “everybody’s making money except the players.” Not only do the players put the most work in, but they get the least out of it — both financially and when it comes to getting an actual education.
Ben Simmons also acknowledges the corruption at play, confiding that while at LSU he was offered numerous incentives. These included Bentley and Rolls-Royce automobiles, fancy watches, jewelry, and even houses.
Ultimately Simmons’ argues that the NCAA system amounts to a form of exploitation. He points out that serious overhauls are needed to the one-and-done and other rules to ensure that players get compensated fairly.