Ben Simmons, the most versatile player in the country and the leader of the nation’s top-ranked team, leads voting in updated Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. On the eve of the McDonald’s All-American roster announcement, the voting process produces an expanded set of national player of the year candidates from the preseason.
It’s no surprise that 6-foot-9 forward Ben Simmons of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) leads the voting in the updated 2014-15 Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker. After all he was the first unanimous selection in the eight-year history of the Mr. Basketball USA voting process to select our national player of the year in the preseason.
Nothing has changed since then, as Simmons still leads the way with a perfect 100 points — meaning he was the first candidate mentioned on each of the ten ballots among the distinguished 10-man Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel. Montverde Academy is not quite as talented top to bottom as it was the past two seasons, but the Eagles are the top-ranked team in the latest Grassroots Hoops FAB 50.
One quote we’ve heard many times from some Mr. Basketball USA panel members and other respected media so far this season: “The difference in that game was Montverde Academy had Ben Simmons — and the other team didn’t.”
He’s turned in some monster individual performances so far — including one panel member and longtime McDonald’s All-American selection committee member Clark Francis of the hoopscooponline.com puts at a historic level. At December’s City of Palms Tournament, Francis put Simmons’ 37-point, 18-rebound performance in a 60-57 win over St. Francis (Alpharetta, Ga.) right up there with some of the best individual performances he’s seen since he started covering the grassroots scene in Indiana and Kentucky in the late 1970’s:
“We’re talking about one of the best and/or most memorable performances that I have ever seen, along with the likes of Clark Kellogg in the 1979 Kentucky Derby Festival Classic, John Williams in the 1984 McDonald’s All-American Game, Alonzo Mourning as a rising junior when he blocked 17 shots in the Orange-White All-Star at the Five-Star Camp, Richie Farmer when he scored 51 points while being guarded by Allan Houston in the 1988 Kentucky State High School Basketball Championship Game, Randy Livingston as a 16-year-old rising junior who was dominating against players two and three year older in the 1991 Boston Shootout, Kevin Garnett as a junior when he scored 41 points for Mauldin (Mauldin, S.C.) in the 1993 Beach Ball Classic, Teddy Dupay when he scored 49 points and almost single handedly knocked off Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) at the 1997 City of Palms Classic, LeBron James when he burst onto the national scene with 34 points as a sophomore versus Oak Hill Academy back in 2001 in a shootout in Columbus, Ohio and Kevin Love when he had more points midway through the fourth quarter than the entire Mater Dei team in the 2007 NIKE Extravaganza.”
Kellogg, Williams, Mourning, Garnett and James all went on to earn Mr. Basketball USA honors at the end of their senior season.
It will be no surprise when Simmons is named to the 2015 McDonald’s All-American team on January 28 (ESPNU, 6pm ET). Of the 15 seniors who received some national player of the year consideration in the latest Mr. Basketball USA Tracker, we expect 13 of them to be named to this year’s McDonald’s team. Twenty-five players (eight juniors, two sophomores) received national player of the year recognition from the 10-man panel, up from 19 in the preseason.
When it comes to being a serious national player of the year candidate, some panel members favor seniors (players in any class are eligible). And looking back over the years at the eventual choices, that makes sense as there’s only been three underclassmen chosen since the 1954-55 season.
“I considered underclassmen and Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and DeAndre Ayton are really stellar young talent, but not better than seniors,” said panel member and McDonald’s voter Van Coleman of hot100hoops.com. “Maturity is definitely a factor for me in this vote.”
Studying all-american selections through the years, team success plays a role in individual honors and this season’s GrassrootsHoops.net All-American team will be no different. Most of the players who appeared on ballots do play for FAB 50 ranked or regionally ranked teams, but not all of them.
One notable candidate to fall in this category is 6-foot-4 guard Tyler Dorsey of Maranatha (Pasadena, Calif.). His team is not as strong as anticipated in the preseason because of the absence of junior center Trevor Stanback (health reasons), but after a sizzling 49-point performance in a 71-59 victory over Centennial (Las Vegas, Nev.) at the Pangos Dream Classic, Dorsey is averaging 33.8 points per game against quality competition. Marantha currently is 9-8 on the court.
Stay logged in to GrassrootsHoops.net to track the progress of the nation’s top individual players and the nation’s Top teams.
|1||1||Ben Simmons (10)||Montverde Academy||10||0||0||0||100|
|2||2||Jaylen Brown (9)||Wheeler||0||6||1||2||76|
|3T||4||Malik Newman (6)||Callaway||0||0||2||1||39|
|3T||6T||Ivan Rabb (6)||Bishop O'Dowd||0||0||3||0||39|
|5||17T||Harry Giles (5)||Wesleyan Christian||0||2||1||0||37|
|6||5||DeAndre Ayton (3)||Balboa School||0||1||0||2||23|
|7||6T||Allonzo Trier (3)||Findlay Prep||0||0||1||1||21|
|8T||6T||Cheick Diallo (3)||Our Savior||0||0||0||1||18|
|8T||14||Tyler Dorsey (3)||Maranatha||0||1||0||0||18|
|10T||3||Isaiah Briscoe (3)||Roselle Catholic||0||0||1||0||17|
|10T||10T||Jayson Tatum (3)||Chaminade||0||0||0||1||17|
|12||10T||Diamond Stone (2)||Dominican||0||0||0||0||10|
|13||12||Dwayne Bacon (2)||Oak Hill||0||0||0||0||9|
|14||NR||Trey Landers (1)||Wayne||0||0||1||0||8|
|15T||NR||Luke Kennard (1)||Franklin||0||0||0||1||7|
|15T||9||Stephen Zimmerman (1)||Bishop Gorman||0||0||0||1||7|
|17T||NR||Jose Alvarado (1)||Christ the King||0||0||0||0||6|
|17T||15||Terrance Ferguson (1)||Prime Prep||0||0||0||0||6|
|17T||NR||Dennis Smith (1)||Trinity Christian||0||0||0||0||6|
|20T||NR||Kobi Simmons (1)||St. Francis||0||0||0||0||5|
|20T||17T||Derryck Thornton (1)||Findlay Prep||0||0||0||0||5|
|22T||13||Henry Ellenson (1)||Rice Lake||0||0||0||0||4|
|22T||19||Vance Jackson (1)||St. John Bosco||0||0||0||0||4|
|22T||NR||Skal Labissiere (1)||Lausanne Collegiate||0||0||0||0||4|
|22T||NR||Stephen Thompson Jr. (1)||Bishop Montgomery||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 this season’s preseason tracker.