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Recapping Showtime’s “ONE AND DONE/BEN SIMMONS”

By Matt Roberts
9 min read
This past Friday, Showtime released a new documentary, “ONE & DONE/BEN SIMMONS.” You know this because previews for the piece, which included critical comments from the former LSU men’s basketball standout about the NCAA, were the top read story in D1.ticker. NCAA President Mark Emmert responded with a finger pointing to the NBA’s entry rule, along with, “We don’t put a gun to your head. First and foremost, it’s about being a student at a university. We’re in the human development business.”

 

Here’s a recap of the 90-plus minute documentary with some added context and a number of points to consider on the challenge of one-and-done student-athletes. If you want more – and you likely will as the written word is only so effective versus the excellent video – check your Showtime listings or go to Showtime.com where you can subscribe to watch. It’s very worth your time.

 

(1:10) The doc opens with a 14-year old Simmons being asked on camera where he would like to play, “NBA, definitely. Wouldn’t really matter what team, I would just really want to play NBA.”

 

(3:12) Julie Simmons (Mother): “I think kids should be allowed to go to the NBA from high school. But, those are the rules. You go to college.” David Simmons (Father): “It’s almost like the waiting game. You’re ready, so why can’t you go?” Ben Simmons: “I know I’m ready to play in the NBA right now. It was never college.”

 

(4:15) Background on Julie & David meeting in 1989 when David was playing professionally in Australia. Julie already had four kids, together they had two more children, Olivia and Ben, “it was a real mixed Brady Bunch situation.”

(9:28) Simmons and family make the decision to head to the States for upgraded competition via Montverde Academy in Orlando. Emily (Sister): “The first year and half was rough for him.” Simmons family moves over from Australia for Ben’s senior year.

 

(12:15) Simmons, with footage of him prepping for graduation from Montverde: “I was born in Australia. I didn’t grow up watching the NCAA Tournament. That was never a big deal to me. It was high school and then the NBA. Never college.”

 

(12:45) Julie: “If you get a child prodigy who plays the violin amazingly, no one is saying to them, ‘You must go to college for a year before you join the philharmonic orchestra.’”

 

(13:00) Ben: “I got offers from everyone, but I’m the type of player that wants to go somewhere to build a legacy or have a team that’s not looked at as number one and that’s an underdog than go to Kentucky or Duke.”

 

(13:30) Connection of former LSU assistant head coach David Patrick as Simmons’ godfather given his friendship with David from their time together playing in Australia. Patrick is now the top assistant on Jamie Dixon’s new staff at TCU. Patrick: “We tried to recruit him harder than anybody and not take for granted that I’m his godfather.”

 

(16:00) Liam (Brother) as Ben heads to LSU: “Ben comes from a great situation. You came from Melbourne, Australia, your Dad was a pro, then you go to Montverde, which is a ridiculously expensive school, you haven’t had anything remotely tragic happen in your life. The real challenge is, you’ve had everything laid at your feet, can you grasp the magnitude of the opportunities before you?”

 

(19:56) Early at LSU, Ben: “I want to destroy the college season. […] It’s not about, ok he came and he left, no, he dominated and it wasn’t just hype.”

 

(20:15) Emily via FaceTime (looks like Ben is in his dorm/apartment), “Are you ever at school? I swear to god it’s like you’re already a full-time athlete, like you’re already in the league.” Here’s where we learn Emily is serving as guidance for Ben given her background as a marketer at Coca-Cola and as the wife of former Louisville football stand-out and NFL player, Michael Bush. “What I’ve learned from his experiences in the NFL has helped me understand the arena that we, as a family, are walking into. […] The thing I’ve always said to Ben is if you’re committed to this and you want this, I will do everything I can to help you.”

 

(25:10) Normal day for Simmons: “Wake-up, class, weights, tutoring, photo shoot, practice.”

 

(26:30) Simmons, during a clip at practice, after having visited with a child in the hospital, “It’s overwhelming and a lot for me to handle. There’s no time to relax.” Simmons’ parents, Julie and David, along with Olivia, end up moving to Baton Rouge a few months into the school year.

 

(31:00) David, during a radio interview in Baton Rouge soon after his move, “The community has really welcomed us with open arms, so we’re one big happy family here.” In response to a question about the extreme spotlight on Ben, “I want Ben to have fun as a teenager, but at the same time you have to realize you’re not the same as everyone else and your goals are different.” Julie: “We have to constantly remind Ben what’s at stake.” David: “There are a lot of things we worry about, all the ‘new friends,’ dealing with the NCAA. We’re worried about violations because there’s so many people around, there’s so many things these kids are exposed to.” Julie “It’s a minefield out there.” Ben: “There’s a lot of things that are just tempting.” Simmons continues with all the material items he’s been offered and many of these comments have been mainstream media fodder. Emily offers perspective to Ben on being able to afford anything he wants in less than a year, then dives into every receipt she keeps to be able to show LSU proof of what Ben owns and who bought it. “It’s mind-blowing that he’s the number one player in college and I’m buying him shoes.”

 

(33:50) Simmons heads to Wal-Mart, buys $140 worth of goods, says he only has $50 left in his account, which has to last the rest of the week. “The NCAA is really fu***** up. Everyone is making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do. And then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”

 

(35:25) Simmons explains eligibility of passing the first semester and then not really having to go to class the second semester since he knows he’s one-and-done. “I’m not going to class next semester, cause I don’t need to. I’m here to play, I’m not here to go to school. […] I go through my classes, but now it’s time to focus on my body and playing. Straight up.”

 

(37:40) President Obama visited Baton Rouge and gave Simmons a shout-out. Ben and Emily remark at the spectacle. Simmons: “It’s fu***** sick, huh?” Emily: “There’s a lot of responsibility that’s going to come from this sh** for you. You gotta be more than a basketball player.”

 

(39:00) Agent roll call includes Rich Paul (Klutch Sports Group), Shawn ‘Pecas’ Costner (Roc Nation) and Aaron Goodwin (Goodwin Sports Management), along with Lynn Merritt of Nike and Marquise Watts of Adidas.

 

(42:30) David (seems to be after the Tigers big win over Kentucky on January 5th): “Each week there’s like 20 or 30 people waiting, just for Ben. We don’t know who’s who and it becomes a bit of an issue. We know that there are some agents there, but there are some agents you don’t know or you’re not aware of.” In a separate sitting, “When it comes to agents, I don’t know who is talking to Ben anymore and at this point, I don’t feel like I’m in control and that really scares me.”

 

(43:28) David continues on Emily’s role in the process of aiding Ben, feels like the family dynamics are being impacted with the spotlight getting brighter, “I feel like I don’t know her as Emily anymore.” Emily doesn’t understand the friction, says she knows the agent world given her background and knows who the good ones are.

 

(44:30) Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group: “What I went through with LeBron is extremely valuable for anybody who wants it. I did $300 million in the last two summers, which is ok, it’s pretty good.” And then there’s text on the screen that Emily has been a marketing consultant for Klutch since 2013. Emily: “This is what I need to make very clear, I went after them.” Paul details how Emily landed at Klutch, “People may not like it, but hey, I’m glad to have her on my side of the table when the time comes.” Emily: “I do not talk to Rich about recruiting my brother. My family is the most important thing to me. If Ben decides to go in a different direction, I have to respect that.” Sub-segment ends with a call from Paul to Simmons prior to the January 30th match-up with Oklahoma in Baton Rouge.

 

(49:00) Olivia, on the spotlight, “I know he wanted this, but I don’t think he expected it to be this crazy.” Ben: “Every time I step out of my apartment I have to check my mentality, watch out for who you see, what you say, how you act.” Picture after picture follows with fans, “Everyone knows who I am because LSU marketed me and put me everywhere. They gonna treat me like I’m a superstar and then they say you’re a next to nothing. They can’t expect me to act like everybody else if they don’t treat me like everybody else.” Reviews the issue of missing classes, “I’m going to the NBA next season. Why bull**** if it’s not going to help me?” Simmons ended up sitting for the first 4:30 of a match-up with Tennessee for missing more class.

 

(52:50) Ben sounds-off with his family, continuing to question the NCAA, “I don’t have a voice. […] I’m going off on the NCAA, just wait. I can be a voice for everyone in college.”

 

(55:00) Emily counsels on having the right frame of mind given the academic questions. Simmons, on the way to an interview, “Well, I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.”

 

(58:17): Tigers go out early in the SEC Tournament, fail to make the NCAA Tournament. Simmons: “I think the hardest thing was knowing I picked LSU and tried to do something that no one usually does and failed.” David and Julie express relief at getting through the season without any major issues on the court (presumably meaning an injury or poor play). David: “It’s about getting on to the next step.”

 

(1:00:02) This is generally where the NCAA-related conversation ends as Simmons exits Baton Rouge soon after the season concludes, “Being at LSU, I was more focused on what I wanted to do than what everyone else was trying to get me to do. Hit a lot of bumps in the road, but I learned that I always have to have my own back and I knew what I wanted to do and that was to be an NBA player.”

 

There’s more interesting content after the LSU/NCAA talk concludes, including Simmons signing with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group in the only agent meeting he took. Shoe-related segment with Adidas and Nike chasing Simmons show clips of the presentation Three Stripes pitched with Snoop Dogg and DJ Khaled all-in for support. Nike’s Merritt comments on the “simple” five-year proposal he put on the table and one Simmons ended up accepting that features $20 million in guaranteed money. As the doc concludes, David comments on the evolving process of how family dynamics are changing with Ben’s money in the picture. Julie, on the eve of the NBA Draft, “I was petrified of the NCAA. I was always scared, like what are they going to do? Is someone going to come along and unravel all this? Because it can happen so easily. […] I’m very proud of all my kids. I’m very happy for Ben. For all of it to come to this is quite extraordinary.” David: “He’s moving on, this is what we’ve hopefully prepared him for. We’ll be around (chokes up).”

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