|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.”