Dick's finale holds No. 1 implications

Ben Simmons

Somewhat lost in the shuffle while the Final Four was taking place, along with heavy McDonald's attention last week and the NY2LA Swish 'D Dish, the Dick's high school nationals nevertheless is a marquee event worthy of mention.

As it did all season, Montverde (Fla.) Academy defeated a top opponent and nearly did so without breaking a sweat. Although Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy mounted a furious and desperate rally in the second half, Montverde held on to huge lead and ultimately prevailed 71-62.

A game of that caliber naturally featured numerous high-major recruits, but the most notable from a Class of 2015 perspective was top-five junior Ben Simmons. An early pledge to LSU, Simmons led Montverde to a perfect 28-0 season and captured the MVP award at Dick's. He poured in 24 points and 12 rebounds in the championship contest, cementing his place among the national top five in his class.

If he competes more physically over the next year, Simmons could make a compelling argument as the top dog in the junior class. His occasional lack of physical aggression has surfaced as the primary knock on his game, particularly compared with a defensive and rebounding stalwart such as Ivan Rabb.

But Simmons now has a meaningful championship trophy in his possession and captured that award over blue-chip senior D'Angelo Russell — who was excellent at the McDonald's practices last week — and others. His skill level for a 6-8 player is off the charts, and the native Australian still is adapting to the American playing style.

Presently ranked No. 4 in the class, Simmons appears more likely to move up than he is down.

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