Ben Simmons, the most versatile forward in the country and the nation’s top-ranked prospect, leads voting in preseason Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker, now in its eighth year. The Montverde Academy do-it-all dynamo is the first unanimous selection in the history of the eight-year voting process to select our national player of the year.
It’s safe to say winning, or having the opportunity to win, is a major factor for individual honors in high school basketball.
Over the past two years, no player has won more than 6-foot-9 forward Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). The LSU signee has been a major cog on teams that have won the Dick’s Nationals Tournament the past two years, both of which finished No. 1 in the final FAB 50 national rankings.
This season, Simmons has a chance to make history by starring on mythical national title-winning teams for three consecutive seasons. No program has finished ranked No. 1 for three consecutive seasons since the advent of weekly national polls in 1982-1983 when USA Today began its Super 25.
Montverde Academy, this season’s preseason FAB 50 No. 1, has a chance to do that. Even though it plays a daunting schedule, the Eagles have to like their chances with the player considered the nation’s best in the lineup. The notion that Simmons is the nation’s top player is clearly reflected in the preseason 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker.
After finishing in fifth place (41 points) in last year’s final balloting behind four graduated seniors, Simmons left no doubt as to whom the early favorite to capture Mr. Basketball USA honors is. In fact, all 10 panel members had the smooth forward No. 1 on their first ballot for the 2014-15 season. The 100 points represents the first unanimous top vote-getter in the eight-year history of the Mr. Basketball USA voting process (preseason, in-season or final tracker included).
Being the best player on the nation’s top-ranked team, which opens its season November 21, definitely was a factor in the preseason ballot results, but it also creates a bulls eye for Simmons. You can’t do better than No. 1 on every single ballot.
“It’s so obvious (Simmons is No. 1) that even some of the other people in our (scouting) business can figure it out,” said hoopscooponline.com Publisher and McDonald’s All-American voter Clark Francis.
“He’s been good in so many settings,” said fullctpress.net Publisher Dinos Trigonis. “He was fantastic at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this past June, and in some respects, has a quiet way of getting the job done every time he steps on the floor. His consistent production is why I believe, with no disrespect to anyone else, he’s the top-ranked and most dominant player in the country. I think he’ll be a program changer at LSU.”
In not often the nation’s top player also plays for the best team. In fact, Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, is the only Mr. Basketball USA to lead a wire-to-wire FAB 50 No. 1 ranked team. He was national player of the year and led Lawrence North (Indianapolis, Ind.) to a 29-0 mark during the 2005-06 season.
Simmons’ biggest challenges during the season figure to come from 6-foot-7 forward Jaylen Brown of FAB 50 No. 11 Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.), 6-foot-3 point guard Isaiah Briscoe of FAB 50 No. 5 Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) and 6-foot-3 shooting guard Malik Newman of FAB 50 No. 21 Callaway (Jackson, Miss.).
Brown, who is ranked as the nation’s top prospect by Scout.com, appeared on seven ballots and collected five second-place votes among his 55 points. Wheeler could lock horns with Montverde Academy in December at the City of Palms Tournament, one of the handful of in-season events that could alter the Mr. Basketball USA race.
Briscoe appeared on the second most ballots (eight) and finished with 53 points, including two second-place mentions. Roselle Catholic will lock horns with Montverde Academy on February 13.
After finishing in eleventh place in last year’s final balloting, Newman gained mention on two additional ballots (five up to seven) with 48 points, 14 more than the only sophomore to appear on a ballot — 7-foot DeAndre Ayton of Balboa City School (San Diego, Calif.). Newman was the national class player of the year as both a freshman and sophomore before being edged by Simmons last season.
Last season, Emmanuel Mudiay of Prime Prep Academy (Dallas), now playing professionally in China, had the lowest point total (76) for the top preseason candidate in the history of the Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. Considering Mudiay’s talent level and the fact he didn’t end up as the winner (Kansas’ Cliff Alexander did) shows just how special a season Simmons could be on the verge of if his team plays up to expectations.
As the panel’s ballots clearly indicate, there has never been so much certainty as to whom the top candidate for national player of the year is to begin a season. It will take some special in-season performances to keep Simmons from maintaining his status as the clear-cut favorite to earn the nation’s top honor.
For the 2014-15 season, 19 players received recognition by GrassrootsHoops.net’s panel. Last year, there were 18 national player of the year candidates to begin the season.
Stay logged in to GrassrootsHoops.net to track the progress of the nation’s top individual players and the nation’s Top teams.
|1||5||Ben Simmons (10)||Montverde Academy||10||0||0||0||100|
|2||NR||Jaylen Brown (7)||Wheeler||0||5||0||0||55|
|3||NR||Isaiah Briscoe (8)||Roselle Catholic||0||2||0||1||53|
|4||11||Malik Newman (7)||Callaway||0||0||2||2||48|
|5||NR||DeAndre Ayton (4)||Balboa School||0||2||2||0||34|
|6T||15||Ivan Rabb (6)||Bishop O'Dowd||0||0||0||1||30|
|6T||NR||Allonzo Trier (5)||Findlay Prep||0||1||0||1||30|
|6T||7||Cheick Diallo (4)||Our Savior||0||0||2||2||30|
|9||NR||Stephen Zimmerman (4)||Bishop Gorman||0||0||1||0||24|
|10T||NR||Jayson Tatum (3)||Chaminade||0||0||0||1||15|
|10T||NR||Diamond Stone (2)||Dominican||0||0||1||1||15|
|12||NR||Dwayne Bacon (2)||Oak Hill||0||0||0||0||11|
|13||NR||Henry Ellenson (2)||Rice Lake||0||0||0||0||10|
|14||22T||Tyler Dorsey (1)||Maranatha||0||0||1||0||8|
|15||NR||Terrance Ferguson (1)||Prime Prep||0||0||0||1||7|
|16||NR||Chase Jeter (1)||Bishop Gorman||0||0||0||0||6|
|17T||NR||Harry Giles (1)||Wesleyan Christian||0||0||0||0||5|
|17T||NR||Derryck Thornton (1)||Findlay Prep||0||0||0||0||5|
|19||NR||Vance Jackson (1)||St. John Bosco||0||0||0||0||4|
About Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Grassroots Hoop’s panel of 10 experts, which includes seven McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in last season’s final tracker.