When Ben Simmons stepped on the stage in the Manhattan Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt New York, he seemed like a man prepared to become the first player to hear their name called in 2016 NBA Draft, although he refused to admit it.
"We'll see tomorrow," Simmons said with a wry smile when asked if he's looking forward to being selected by the Sixers with the top overall pick. "I'm just blessed to be in this position. It's a long time coming. I've been working hard so I'm ready."
The Australian native was greeted by a plethora of media members from his home country, and credited growing up Down Under with helping to mold the player he is today.
"Playing in Australia and coming to the states to play, that just developed my game even more," the 19-year-old phenom said. "Passing, dribbling, but also being able to take contact in the post."
The Sixers have two Aussie connections within the organization, and head coach Brett Brown has known Simmons his entire life. Brown spent five seasons coaching Simmons' dad, David, as an assistant on the Melbourne Tigers of the NBL, and was the head coach of the Australian men's national basketball team while Ben was working his way through his school.
Simmons said the two spent time reminiscing about Australia during his workout with the Sixers on Tuesday, and mentioned a time when he went to check out the national team practice at age 15.
"[Brown] said, 'just make sure you're able to score the ball and one day you might be in the NBA,'" Simmons recalled.
One thing Simmons is certainly prolific at is scoring the ball. He averaged 19.2 points per game while shooting 56 percent from the field, and shot 71 percent around the rim. Two areas of his game that people have questioned leading up to the draft is his outside shooting ability, as well as his work ethic, but those who know him would dispute those claims.
Washington point guard Dejounte Murray, who shares an agent with Simmons, has spent many hours with him since the collegiate season ended working to improve their games.
"On the court, he’s got a good work ethic. We worked out twice a day, so the only thing for him is to keep working hard, Murray said.
"A lot of people question his shot or my shot, and a lot of people don't realize we put in countless hours and countless reps shooting the same shot and working on everything. I feel like he's gonna be fine with [his jump shot], because I've seen the improvement over the two-and-a-half months we were with each other."
Acquiring a passable jump shot will be key if Simmons anticipates handling the ball as much as he did in college, and he insists that he won't add to the front court issue the Sixers are currently dealing with.
"I’m a point forward. I’m completely different from most of those guys. We’ve got Jahlil and Joel — bigger guys. I know I can play any position," Simmons said.
His multi-faceted game can make him the lynchpin of this Sixers team, and with a familiar face in Brett Brown coaching him, Simmons is well on his way to having a prosperous NBA career.