The final ballots are in and LSU-bound Ben Simmons is head and shoulders above 27 other national player of the year candidates. Tyler Dorsey, DeAndre Ayton, Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown, Skal Labissiere and fast-rising Cheick Diallo all receive second-place votes.
Throughout the major holiday tournaments, showcases and various state playoff tournaments around the country, one name consistently appeared on all ten Mr. Basketball USA Tracker ballots: 6-foot-9 power forward Ben Simmons of FAB 50 national champion Montverde Aademy (Montverde, Fla.).
Not only did the LSU-bound do-it-all forward appear on every ballot all season long, he was the top vote-getter on all 10 ballots each time. To put into perspective just how dominant of a season Simmons had and what respected national scouts think of him, consider before this season no Mr. Basketball candidate had ever garnered a perfect score of 100 points (the previous high was 98 points). Simmons did that on every ballot for the 2014-15 season.
“It’s so obvious that Ben Simmons is the best player in the country, that even a lot of the self-appointed, so-called experts can figure it out,” said Hoop Scoop publisher and panel member Clark Francis, whose never afraid to speak his mind.
Simmons averaged 27.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for a 31-1 team that played one of the nation’s toughest schedules. He closed out the year with a 20-point, 11-rebound, 6-assist performance in a 70-61 win over No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the Dick’s Nationals title game. He was the one constant on the Eagles’ last three Dick’s Nationals title teams and the difference-maker in big games versus other FAB 50-ranked teams.
Jaylen Brown, the second leading vote getter behind Simmons, also ended his season on a winning note. He helped Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) win a Class AAAAAA by nailing two free throws with under a second remaining in the state title game. Brown, who averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds per game, was the only Mr. Basketball USA candidate to appear on nine ballots. He received two second place votes and also turned in a 25-point, 12- rebound, six-assist performance in Wheeler’s 68-63 win over Montverde Academy in the City of Palms Tournament championship game.
The player with the most second-place votes was also the high-riser of the final, expanded tracker where the panel nominates its top 10 candidates and places a greater emphasis on the entire season rather than week-to-week results. Cheick Diallo, a 6-foot-9 shot-blocking phenom from Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.), garnered three second place votes and appeared on six overall ballots. In the previous tracker, he was tied for tenth-place, but his point total of 42 zoomed him past the likes of California big men Ivan Rabb (37 points) and DeAndre Ayton (35 points) into third place. Ayton, the only sophomore to appear on a ballot, joined Brown in garnering two second-place votes.
Diallo, a native of Mali, averaged 17.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game for a program that does not compete for a state title. His ability to run the floor and dominate around the rim was evident on the post-season all-star game circuit and his dominance among his peers was likely the main reason for the uptick. Diallo had 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in a MVP performance at the McDonald’s All-American Game, helped the World Team defeat the U.S. Team in the Nike Hoop Summit with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots and was the most impressive player at the Jordan Brand Classic. Diallo finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.
“Diallo was hurt some last summer, so his candidacy kind of faded, but he’s a high-enegry, great athlete,” Francis said. “It’s no surprise he looked really good in a game like McDonald’s. It wasn’t a case that he did anything wrong when we dropped him in the Hoop Scoop rankings.”
No less than 28 candidates earned recognition as a national player of the year candidate in the final, expanded tracker. Still, it will be tough to top Simmons’s glowing resume for the nation’s most prestigious honor.
|1||1||Ben Simmons (10)||Montverde Academy||10||0||0||0||100|
|2||2||Jaylen Brown (9)||Wheeler||0||2||4||1||65|
|3||10T||Cheick Diallo (6)||Our Savior||0||3||0||1||42|
|4||5||Ivan Rabb (7)||Bishop O'Dowd||0||1||2||0||37|
|5T||8||DeAndre Ayton (6)||Balboa School||0||2||0||1||35|
|5T||6||Allonzo Trier (6)||Findlay Prep||0||0||0||3||35|
|5T||NR||Brandon Ingram (5)||Kinston||0||0||2||1||35|
|8||4||Harry Giles (6)||Wesleyan Christian||0||0||1||1||29|
|9T||3||Malik Newman (5)||Callaway||0||0||0||0||21|
|9T||10T||Isaiah Briscoe (4)||Roselle Catholic||0||0||1||0||21|
|11T||NR||Lonzo Ball (4)||Chino Hills||0||0||0||1||15|
|11T||10T||Dwayne Bacon (4)||Oak Hill||0||0||0||0||15|
|11T||7||Tyler Dorsey (4)||Maranatha||0||1||0||0||15|
|11T||19T||Skal Labissiere (2)||Lausanne Collegiate||0||1||0||0||15|
|15T||9||Jayson Tatum (4)||Chaminade||0||0||0||0||10|
|15T||15T||Diamond Stone (4)||Dominican||0||0||0||0||10|
|17||19T||Dennis Smith (1)||Trinity Christian||0||0||0||0||8|
|18||NR||Marvin Bagley (1)||Corona del Sol||0||0||0||1||7|
|19||NR||Antonio Blakeney (2)||Oak Ridge||0||0||0||0||6|
|20T||13T||Stephen Zimmerman (2)||Bishop Gorman||0||0||0||0||5|
|20T||NR||Henry Ellenson (1)||Rice Lake||0||0||0||0||5|
|20T||NR||Luke Kennard (1)||Franklin||0||0||0||0||5|
|23||NR||Jalen Brunson (1)||Stevenson||0||0||0||0||4|
|24T||NR||Thomas Bryant (2)||Huntington Prep||0||0||0||0||3|
|24T||NR||Caleb Swanigan (1)||Homestead||0||0||0||0||3|
|26||NR||Horace Spencer (1)||Findlay Prep||0||0||0||0||2|
|27T||NR||Derrick Jones (1)||Archbishop Carroll||0||0||0||0||1|
|27T||NR||Kobi Simmons (1)||St. Francis||0||0||0||0||1|
2014-15 Grassroots Hoops Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Paul Biancardi, ESPN National Director of Basketball Recruiting
Eric Bossi, Rivals.com National Analyst
Frank Burlison, BurlisonOnBasketball.com Publisher
Van Coleman, TheBasketballChannel.net VP of Content
Ronnie Flores, GrassrootsHoops.net Publisher & Editor
Clark Francis, Hoop Scoop Editor & Publisher
Bob Gibbons, All-Star Sports
Jerry Meyer, 247Sports.com Director of Scouting
Patrick Stanwood, Patrick Stanwood Basketball
Dinos Trigonis, Fullcourt Press Editor & Publisher
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 ranking refers to position in the previous tracker.